Qatar University working on aviation biofuels from single-celled salt tolerant photosynthetic organisms

In Doha, Qatar University has revealed the progress into research on developing  biofuels for aviation (timed to coincide with the Doha climate talks – for PR reasons). The Qatar biofuels project is state-backed – the first in the region. The university’s project, in collaboration with Qatar Airways is now into its 3rd year and aims to find a way of producing affordable biofuels which do not rely on the use of valuable arable land and which can be produced efficiently in the harsh climate of Qatar. They have isolated multiple forms of single-celled photosynthetic organisms (cyanobacteria and microalgae) abundant in the waters of Qatar which grow well in its extreme heat, strong sunlight and highly saline water. They are trying to scale them up, from small test-tubes to water tanks – then extracting the lipids for fuel, while carbohydrate for bioethanol. So far they have made only 1,500 litres but want to expand to 25,000 litres. They hope to expand further.

 


Qatar University reveals progress of aviation biofuels project

Monday, 26 November 2012 (The Peninsula – a paper from Qatar)


Roberto Gonzalez, President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and Jane Hupe, Chief Environment Branch, ICAO, with a Qatar University Biofuels team scientist.

From left: Hareb Al Jabri, Manager of the Qatar University Biofuels Project, Dr Malcolm Potts, Director of the Biofuels Project, Roberto Gonzalez, President of ICAO, and Jane Hupe, Chief Environment Branch, ICAO, at the press briefing yesterday.

DOHA: Qatar University (QU) yesterday revealed the progress of its groundbreaking research on developing sustainable alternative biofuels for aviation, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference COP-18, which opens here today.

The QU research team and officials gave Roberto Gonzalez, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) a tour of the facilities.

“We really welcome this project. It shows that different solutions are being applied to different areas around the globe – focusing on sustainability by using resources natural to the surroundings. What really stands out with the Qatar biofuels project is that it is state-backed. It is a good example in the Arab region, showing a commitment to sustainability and the environment,” said Gonzales, who was impressed by the project.

This was the first time the team publicly detailed the progress of the state-backed QR45.5m biofuel project – the first time in the region. The university’s project, in collaboration with Qatar Airways and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) is now into its third year. The research team which is part of QU College of Arts and Sciences has developed state-of-the-art facilities which are the best in the GCC and competitive internationally for this type of research.

The aim of the project is to find a way of producing affordable, sustainable biofuels which do not rely on the use of valuable arable land and which can be produced efficiently in the harsh climate of Qatar.

These fuels should provide an alternative source of energy, specifically for use by the airline industry. If successfully produced on a commercial scale, the discovery will have international ramifications – significantly reducing one of the airline industry’s biggest fixed costs and providing a sustainable, environmentally-friendly fuel where carbon dioxide is recycled rather than accumulated in the atmosphere.

The research team isolated multiple forms of single-celled photosynthetic organisms (cyanobacteria and microalgae) unique to the country, abundant in the waters of Qatar which grow well in the extreme heat, strong sunlight and highly saline waters of Qatar.

The research group grew these cultures, eliminating weaker variations which do not respond so well to the Qatari environment and scaled up growth from small test-tubes to water tanks to monitor their growth. Then the lipids are extracted from the cultures to make fuel, while carbohydrate is used to make bioethanol.

The team then scaled up their tests to tanks of 1,500 litres situated outdoors, at QU’s research farm in Al Khor.

Having grown them successfully, the experiment is now being scaled up even further – to 25,000 litres, specially-designed outdoor research ponds currently being prepared by the team.

If successful, a pre-commercialisation pilot plant will be constructed on a much larger scale – 1.5m litres. The aviation industry has been keenly following the project throughout its stages.

Gonzalez and his delegation visited the labs to see first-hand how the project had developed. He was joined by QU President Prof Sheikha Abdulla Al Misnad, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr Eiman Mustafawi, Vice President for Research Dr Hassan Al Derham, Head of the Department of Biological Sciences Dr Samir Jaoua and members of the biofuels research team.

“As Qatar’s national university, we are always mindful of our role in advancing technology for the greater good of society. This project plays a key role in Qatar’s wider commitment to developing in an environmentally sustainable way and, if successful, will have benefits across the world,” said Professor Al Misnad.

The Peninsula

http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/215699-qu-reveals-progress-of-aviation-biofuels-project-.html

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Airbus and EADS join Chinese venture to develop algae-based jet fuels, with demo flight planned for 2013

Airbus, EADS Innovation Works and Chinese bio-energy company ENN have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together in assessing the potential for developing alternative aviation fuels based on microalgae oils produced in China. The scope of the collaboration includes technical qualification of such fuels and to promote their use for aviation in China, which has one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets. ENN says it is able to produce more than 10 tons of algae-based oil per year.  They plan to have test flights in 2013 using oil supplied by ENN and afterwards look to scale up the alternative fuel production process to produce more.  They will also be developing tools to assess the environmental, economic and societal impact of the technology. EADS claims that algae, fed on waste CO2 from power plants, can be grown on poor quality land using non-potable or salt water, so their cultivation does not compete with food production. And ENN says a hectare of microalgae could process 15,000 to 80,000 litres of oil. [ But there are huge scalability problems. Link



Airbus and EADS join Chinese venture to develop algae-based jet fuels, with demo flight planned for 2013

16.11.2012 (GreenAir online)

Airbus, EADS Innovation Works and leading Chinese bio-energy company ENN,[ a Chinese energy “clean” company] have signed a memorandum of understanding to partner in assessing the potential for developing alternative aviation fuels based on microalgae oils produced in China. The scope of the collaboration includes technical qualification of such fuels and to promote their use for aviation in China, one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets. ENN has developed one of the most advanced pilot plants in the world and is able to produce more than 10 tons of algae-based oil per year. An objective is after a technical assessment to plan test flights to take place in 2013 using oil supplied by ENN and afterwards look to scale up the alternative fuel production process to achieve sustainable quantities of aviation fuel for flight use.

In the initial first phase of the project, the partners will work together on a maturity assessment of algae oil technology, on oil testing and analysis, and on the development of tools to assess the environmental, economic and societal impact of the technology.

Certain species of algae contain high amounts of oil that can be extracted, processed and refined. Microalgae reproduce rapidly and create at least 30 times more organic substance per cultivation area than, for example, rapeseed, claims EADS, and consume large amounts of CO2. As algae can be grown on poor quality land using non-potable or salt water, their cultivation does not compete with food production. ENN says a hectare of microalgae could process 15,000 to 80,000 litres of oil.

Set up in 2007, the ENN Biomass Energy Technology Center has focused on research of CO2-microalgae-biodiesel technology and has recently established a 5,000-tonne biodiesel demonstration project in Inner Mongolia for recycling use of CO2 from coal-fired power plants and chemical plants as well as bio-energy production. ENN has so far developed 70 technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights in biomass energy, such as light bioreactor and biodiesel production.

“Applying algae biotechnology to produce clean energy using industrial waste, including CO2 and wastewater, is part of our carbon recycle programme,” explained Dr Zhongxue Gan, CTO of ENN Group. “Sustainability is crucial to our environment and the global community. ENN, as a clean energy provider, and Airbus, as an energy consumer, are striving to make sure that algal jet fuel can be delivered and used to reduce carbon emissions for the airline industry.”

Airbus will support the necessary fuel tests and qualification activities leading to the deployment of the sustainable alternative fuels for commercial flights and will coordinate the participation of external partners such as engine manufacturers and airlines.

“We are privileged to be working with ENN to determine how we can best contribute to a sustainable aviation sector in China,” said Frédéric Eychenne, New Energies Programme Manager for Airbus, which is involved in a global programme to set up regional sustainable aviation biofuel value chains on every continent. “The commercialisation of new generation alternative fuels is one of the essential ingredients in our quest to achieving ambitious environmental targets in aviation.”

EADS has been in the forefront of promoting microalgae as a promising pathway for the production of aviation biofuels.

“We have already proven that it is technically feasible to fly with algae oil,” said EADS CTO Jean Botti at this week’s China International Air Show in Zhuhai. “Now we need to demonstrate that the industrial production of algae-based biofuel is both ecologically and economically viable.”

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1623

Links:
Airbus – Alternative fuels
EADS Innovation Works
ENN
Related GreenAir Online articles:

Airbus and Sinopec agree to partner on supporting alternative fuels development and standards in China
Boeing and Airbus set up research projects that will aim to convert China’s used cooking oil to jet fuel
Rival Chinese and US planemakers partner to set up Beijing energy conservation and emissions reduction research project

 

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But there remain huge problems with growing algae in sufficient quantities for commercially viable fuel.

See

30 November 2011 (BBC)

Algae fuel firms face moment of truth

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15947205 

one extract from which says:

….. “none has yet succeeded in producing fuel commercially and at scale.

Instead, many firms have shut down.  In 2009, MIT spin-off Greenfuel Technologies closed after $70m (£44m) of investment to build its own mini-algae plant.

“No-one knows how to grow any kind of micro-organism at very large scale – multiple hectares,” says Prof Jerry Brand from the University of Texas in Austin, which is leading research in the field.

“As you scale up, it’s not that things get cheaper, but that new problems emerge.”

One problem is that despite being very small, you can’t actually grow algae very densely. The algae closest to the light – or the surface of the water – block the light for algae lower down.

Another is harvesting the green gloop, or the oil it produces.”

………… and it continues …………

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15947205 

 

 

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See earlier:

 

Growing Biofuels on “Surplus” Land May Be Harder Than Estimated

Date added: October 22, 2012

Degraded or marginal lands may not be able to productively support the growth of biofuel crops, contrary to previous reports. Biofuels companies hope that surplus land, or land unused in either conservation or agricultural production, offers an elegant solution to the food versus fuel arguments that have plagued bioenergy. The problem, according to a new study in the journal BioRisk, is that the productive capacity of known surplus lands may be greatly overestimated. It is necessary to ascertain “who’s living on the land, who’s working on the land, what ecosystems services you’re dealing with — we might find out there’s a whole lot of land we just can’t convert into anything else.” Availability of water, soil quality, conservation requirements, GHG emssions from disturbed soils and existing habitation or other human use are all factors that need to be taken into consideration — and have sometimes been ignored — when designating marginal land for the production of biofuel.Even hearty species like switchgrass and miscanthus tend to yield less biomass when planted in nutrient-poor or degraded soil.

Click here to view full story…


 

Boeing executive: Industry ‘begging’ for biofuels – they need quality and quantity

Date added: October 16, 2012

A Boeing executive has said the global aviation industry is actively seeking to incorporate biofuels in its aircraft. The airline industry is “begging” for biofuels and is committed to using them in their fleets. He was speaking at the Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis. He said his industry is a market just waiting for people biofuel producers to scale their products up, and if they can produce these fuels in large amounts, aviation will buy them. Airlines are having to reduce their carbon footprint and one means to do this is the use of biofuels. Boeing said the world’s fleet of 20,000 commercial aircraft is expected to grow to 40,000 in 20 years. That is likely to bring the % of aviation CO2 emissions to 4% (probably more) out of the global anthropogenic CO2 total. The industry is aware that CO2 emissions are a problem for their unfettered growth. The industry can only grow hugely if it can make some efficiency improvement, find a magic bullet in biofuels, or trade carbon permits with other sectors. Boeing hopes biofuels will halve aviation’s CO2 emissions by 2050. (Not very likely).

Click here to view full story…


 

Lufthansa turns to algae and municipal solid waste as sources of jet biofuel

Date added: September 23, 2012

In a long and detailed article, with customary thoroughness, Green Air examines what is happening with Lufthansa and jet biofuel. While Solena has still not announced progress on building a plant in east London to produce jet fuel from London’s municipal waste for BA, it is progressing in Germany. There are plans in the Schwedt/Oder region of eastern Germany to build a Solena facility, using waste from landfills and incinerators. They hope to convert more than 520,000 tonnes of waste biomass into jet fuel, diesel fuel and electricity. Lufthansa is also looking to obtain jet fuel made from algae by Australian based Algae.Tec, which plans to grow algae in 40 ft shipping containers, using light capture arrays and light tubes, and CO2 from an industrial source – as well as water and minerals. Algae.Tec have so far opened a one-container test facility south of Sydney.

Click here to view full story…


Airbus and Boeing collaborating with Chinese on aviation biofuels – using “gutter oil”

Date added: September 13, 2012

Airbus has joined forces with China’s Tsinghua University to promote the production and use of aviation biofuel in China. They will look at a wide range of feedstocks, including used cooking oil, that might (?) otherwise be wasted, and also algae. The full sustainability analysis should be completed by the beginning of 2013. It hopes to produce useful quantities of aviation fuel for commercial use. In August, Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) opened a joint technology center in Beijing dedicated to aviation fuel and emissions. They say China annually consumes approximately 29 million tons of cooking oil, while its aviation system uses 20 million tons of jet fuel. There is a lot of dirty “gutter oil” from restaurants, which has been illicitly re-used in food. There are forecasts that passenger traffic in China will surpass 300 million this year and will reach 1.5 billion passengers by 2030.

Click here to view full story…


 

Aviation biofuels: which airlines are doing what, with whom?

Date added: September 10, 2012

News of airlines doing test flights using a proportion of biofuel seems to have gone a bit quiet this year. Biofuels Digest has done a round up of what they know about which airlines are linked up with which fuel companies. It appears most of the trial flights used recycled cooking oil, which cannot be a significant component of jet fuel in future as there is just not enough of it. And the realisation is dawning that biofuels compete with food crops for land, water and nutrients. Also it should be asked why aviation should be the recipient of scarce and precious supplies of the few biofuelsl that are genuinely sustainable, and do not have ILUC (indirect land use change) implications.

Click here to view full story…


Boeing, Air China and PetroChina aim for 2nd 50% jatropha biofuel flight test in autumn

Date added: June 14, 2012

Boeing in cooperation with Air China and PetroChina, will press ahead with a 2nd test flight that will be partly powered by jatropha. The flight will be in the last quarter of 2012, and be a trans-Pacific trip, far longer than the one-hour test flight that was conducted in China last October. That flight used 50% jatropha based fuel. China wants to produce more jet fuel from jatropha, which it claims can be produced from large areas of “barren land” where it might grow. The aim of the biofuel flight is to prove that a China-produced biofuel works, and to ensure “regulators and airlines around the world are comfortable using it for commercial flights.”

Click here to view full story…

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Gulfstream private jets flown on 50% biojet fuel made from Camelina grown in US

Gulfstream have flown 5 private jets from Savannah, Georgia to Orlando, Florida, using 50% biofuel – called  Honeywell Green Jet Fuel –  made from camelina supplied by Honeywell’s UOP.  The fuel was a 50/50 blend with conventional kerosene. Honeywell says that camelina is an inedible plant grown in the US northwest where it is rotated with wheat and other cereal crops. Based on life-cycle analysis studies, Honeywell claims its camelina-based fuel “burn 68 % fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel.” quote.  They also claim that “Depending on the feedstock, the fuel can offer between a 65 and 85% reduction in GHG emissions.”  Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the US military to produce renewable military-grade jet fuel for the US military.  Camelina does not appear to be free of problems, however. There may be reduced yield of wheat when grown in rotation with camelina. There is likely to be a need to fertilise the crop, to get an economic yield. It will not grow without enough water, so unless there is enough rain, it could need some irrigation. And so on.

 


 

Gulfstream flies in on advanced biofuels to make a green entrance at major aviation show

2.11.2012 (GreenAir online)

Gulfstream flies in on advanced biofuels to make a green entrance at major aviation show | Gulfstream,UOP

Gulfstream G450 refuelled with Green Jet biofuel prior to transatlantic flight in 2011

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1614
Gulfstream’s full fleet of demonstration business jet aircraft were flown earlier this week from their Savannah, Georgia base to the NBAA convention in Orlando, Florida on blended biofuel supplied by Honeywell’s UOP.

The five aircraft used Honeywell Green Jet Fuel sourced from oils from camelina, an inedible plant grown in the US northwest where it is rotated with wheat. It was blended 50/50 with conventional fuel and produced using Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process. Based on life-cycle analysis studies, Honeywell claims its camelina-based fuel burns 68 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel. Depending on the feedstock, the fuel can offer between a 65 and 85 per cent reduction in GHG emissions. Gulfstream says the use of biofuels is part of a multipronged approach it is taking towards sustainability and improving aircraft efficiencies.

[For some information on potential problems with camelina, see below].

“A little over a year ago, a G450 became the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic on biofuels when Honeywell flew from Morristown, New Jersey to Paris for the Paris Air Show,” commented Gulfstream’s SVP Sales and Marketing, Scott Neal. “Now, we’re the first original equipment manufacturer to have its full fleet fly to a trade show on advanced biofuels.

“We continue to invest in research that will ensure our aircraft are fuel-efficient and quiet to lessen their environmental impact.”

Gulfstream’s sustainability efforts also extend to green buildings and manufacturing practices, including ensuring all new company buildings are LEED-certified. It has a dedicated sustainability group committed to reducing industrial emissions, conserving energy and recycling consumables. Single-stream recycling takes place at all of its facilities, with employees having diverted 1.2 million pounds (544 tonnes) of recyclables, reports the company.

Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce renewable military-grade jet fuel for the US military. The company says its process is fully compatible with existing hydroprocessing technology commonly used in today’s refineries to produce transportation fuels.

In other related news, UOP’s Sales Account Manager, Jim Woodger, has left to join biofuel technology company Solazyme as its Associate Director, Upstream Business Development. Earlier this week, Solazyme was ranked first in the Biofuels Digest annual “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” ratings.

Other companies in the top rankings that are working on alternative jet fuel development include LanzaTech (3rd), Gevo, Sapphire Energy, Honeywell’s UOP, Amyris and Virent.

Links:
Gulfstream
Honeywell’s UOP Green Jet Fuel

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1614

Related GreenAir Online articles:

Honeywell enters Canadian flight programme to test a new biofeedstock and higher blends of its green jet fuel
Honeywell enters Canadian flight programme to test a new biofeedstock and higher blends of its green jet fuel
Abu Dhabi to host major research institution and demonstration project for sustainable aviation biofuels
Progress on alternative jet fuels “stunning”, says aviation industry, but commercialization is now the major challenge
Brazilian airline TAM to conduct nationally-sourced jatropha jet biofuel demonstration flight
Progress on alternative jet fuels “stunning”, says aviation industry, but commercialization is now the major challenge
Boeing announces major initiatives to develop, commercialize and fly sustainable jet biofuels in China
Brazilian airline TAM to conduct nationally-sourced jatropha jet biofuel demonstration flight
Abu Dhabi to host major research institution and demonstration project for sustainable aviation biofuels
Algae jet fuel supplier Solazyme ranked the ‘hottest’ in annual poll of the world’s top bioenergy companies

 

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The oxymoron of fuel efficient business jets

This really is a contradiction in terms. A company that deals in private jets, which are about the least fuel efficient mode of transport possible.

If the company wants to really reduce its carbon emissions, it should consider areas other than private jets, which often have only 1 – 3 passengers in the entire plane. Their emissions per passenger are often around three to eight times as much as those of a first class passenger on an ordinary commercial flight, and those may be twice as high as those of an economy class passenger.  See http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=456

Gulfstream say, in their press release at  http://www.gulfstream.com/news/releases/2012/gulfstream-aerospace-demonstrates-commitment-to-sustainability.htm   that

“The effort signifies Gulfstream’s commitment to achieving the business aviation industry’s goals on emissions reductions, including carbon neutral growth by 2020 and a reduction in total carbon emissions of 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. Alternative fuels could account for 40 percent of these reductions, while the remaining improvements will come from technology and operations.

““Using biofuels is part of the multipronged approach Gulfstream has taken toward sustainability,” Neal said. “In addition to reducing our carbon footprint, we’re focused on improving aircraft efficiencies. For example, the Gulfstream G650 flies farther and faster than any other business jet in the world, burns less fuel for the same mission and, as a result, has a reduced carbon footprint and produces fewer emissions, such as nitrous oxide. ”

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Potential problems with Camelina

There is a long and quite comprehensive article from the US Association for Energy Economics at

http://dialogue.usaee.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132&Itemid=364

Just a couple of paragraphs and extracts are copied below:

The overall water usage of camelina is minimal due to the enhanced drought resistance of the crop. Through personal communications with researchers at Montana State University, it can be derived that two inches of rainfall is necessary for proper plant establishment and a yield of 250 pounds per acre.  Each additional inch of rainfall correlates to 125 pounds of additional yield. Using the past 10 years of rainfall data from five weather stations in eastern Colorado, it can be concluded that there is an 87% likelihood of sufficient moisture to cultivate at least 500 pounds of camelina, and a 75% likelihood of enough moisture for at least 625 pounds at harvest.

Fertilizer inputs are also rather minimal. The literature is not consistent with the recommended amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed, ranging from as little as no use, to as much as 80 pounds per acre. The literature average, however, is 35 pounds per acre. In order to find an estimate of the actual cost of fertilizer in 2011, we created a basic forecast, regressing nitrogen fertilizer prices against the price of crude oil and the price of natural gas. There is significant correlation between the price of crude oil and the price of fertilizer. Natural gas was used since it is the main input in ammonia, which in turn is the main input in nitrogen fertilizer. The final estimates indicate that about $10.55 would be spent per acre on nitrogen fertilizer. Similar approaches were used for sulfur, which has a literature average of 5 pounds per acre, phosphate, whose average is 12 pounds per acre, and potassium, at 3.75 pounds per acre. Their costs per acre, when multiplied by the forecasted 2011 fertilizer prices are $1.73, $6.56, and $2.01, respectively.

There are several flaws with Camelina Sativa at this time. The oil has too high a percentage of linolenic acid (18:3) and total polyunsaturated fatty acids (Pinzi et al., 2009). These high percentages are not ideal for engine performance and shelf life, respectively, of straight vegetable oils. However, the genome has only recently been explored for use a biodiesel, and many studies are optimistic that it can be perfected in the near future.

Another issue is the unpredictability of yields at harvest; peer reviewed studies are estimating about 800 pounds per acre on average, with a standard deviation of nearly 400 pounds per acre.

….

Early simulations have yielded positive results for camelina, with several caveats. The major wildcard at this time is the impact potential impact to wheat crops. While it is most likely that no reduction will be present in the wheat harvest directly following camelina, sources have ranged greatly in this estimate. Shonnard et al. (2010) suggests that there is no loss in yield of the subsequent wheat crop, due to three factors.

These include increasing soil moisture due to the short rooted nature of the camelina crop, breaking a crop cycle aids in the prevention of pests and disease, and changing the nutrient profile through complex biochemical mechanisms.

This has been disputed, however. It must be acknowledged that personal communications with representatives from the Agricultural Research Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, have suggested that wheat farmers may expect as much as a 33% reduction in wheat yields following a camelina growth rotation. There have been no citations of this figure in any of the literature, however.

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Canada claims world’s first 100% biofuel-powered civil jet flight

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has flown the first civil jet powered by 100% unblended biofuel. The plane used was a Falcon 20, which is private jet that can carry 8 – 14 people, and it flew over Ottawa. The distance it flew is not stated. A 2nd aircraft,  tailed the Falcon in flight and collected information on the emissions generated by the biofuel, which will be analysed. The drop-in fuel was produced using AgrisomaResonance Energy Feedstock, a dedicated industrial oilseed that was launched at commercial scale in 2012 across a broad region of western Canada.  Resonance Energy Feedstock produces this industrial oil – produced from genetically modified Brassica carinata – which they say is a non-food oil. They don’t actually say its growing does not compete with producing food. To date, flights on biofuels have been restricted to a 50% blend with petroleum.



 

 

Canada claims world’s first 100% biofuel-powered civil jet flight

30.10.2012 (Flight Global)

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) achieved a major milestone for the aviation industry today as it flew the first civil jet powered by 100 percent unblended biofuel. The NRC said the historic flight symbolizes a significant step not only for the aerospace industry, but also towards advancing sustainable sources of renewable energy.

“Today, I flew the world’s first 100 percent biofuel flight,” said Tim Leslie, one of NRC’s pilots. “We have been working hard with our partners for many months, and it is most rewarding to see it all come together. It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an eco-friendly future.”

“I congratulate the aerospace team at the National Research Council of Canada for achieving today’s milestone in aviation history,” said Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “This is a perfect example of how government and industry work together to bridge the gap between Canadian innovation and commercialization. The NRC, through our government’s investments, helps support the Canadian economy by enabling its partners to develop and bring effective sustainable energy solutions to market.”

The biofuel flowed into the engine of the Falcon 20 – one of NRC’s specifically equipped and best suited jet for this challenge – as it flew over Ottawa. A second aircraft, the T-33, tailed the Falcon in flight and collected valuable information on the emissions generated by the biofuel. Research experts at the National Research Council will analyze this information to better understand the environmental impact of biofuel. Preliminary results are expected to be released in the following weeks.


The biofuel used for this flight was transformed by Applied Research Associates and Chevron Lummus Global using oilseed crops commercialized by Agrisoma Bioscience Inc. The initiative is funded by the Government of Canada’s Clean Transportation Initiatives and the Green Aviation Research and Development Network.

http://www.flightglobal.com/airspace/forums/canada-claims-worlds-first-100-biofuel-powered-89699.aspx


 

Era of 100% petroleum-free aviation debuts with first all-biofuels flight in Canada

b y  (Biofuels Digest)
October 30, 2012

In California, Aemetis announced at Advanced Biofuels Markets the world’s first flight segment on 100% renewable, drop-in biofuel, conducted by the National Research Council of Canada using its Falcon 20 jet [a business jet that can carry 8 – 14 passengers].

The drop-in fuel was produced using AgrisomaResonance Energy Feedstock, a dedicated industrial oilseed that was launched at commercial scale in 2012 across a broad region of western Canada.  Resonance Energy Feedstock produces a unique industrial oil ideally suited for biofuel manufacturing.  Resonance is part of a new generation of sustainable and scalable biomass crops, specially developed to provide a non-food oil that represent a step change for the renewable fuels industry,breaking the reliance on food crops to supply feedstock for biofuel manufacturing.

To date, flights on biofuels have been restricted to a 50% blend with petroleum, imposing limitations on fuel use. Using Applied Research Associates’ proprietary catalytic hydrothermolysis process, oil from Resonance Energy Feedstock was converted into a fuel that represents a complete replacement for conventional jet fuel, enabling flight at 100% biofuel use, a breakthrough for the renewable fuels industry. This historic flight symbolizes a significant step not only for the aerospace industry, but also towards advancing sustainable sources of renewable energy.

“Today, I flew the world’s first 100 percent biofuel flight,’’ said Tim Leslie, NRC pilot. “We have been working hard with our partners for many months, and it is most rewarding to see it all come together. It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an eco-friendly future!’’

“This flight represents the culmination of a significant and strategic effort within Canada to demonstrate leadership ingreen aviation, from the commercialization of a sustainable and scalable feedstock crop to an “at altitude” flight demonstration with real-time emissions monitoring during the flight.  Agrisoma is proud to be a part of this landmark work,” said Steven Fabijanski, President and CEO of Agrisoma, who was present on the tarmac.  “To date, all powered flight has relied on fossil fuel. This flight changes everything: we have witnessed petroleum free aviation.”

http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2012/10/30/era-of-100-petroleum-free-aviation-debuts-with-first-all-biofuels-flight-in-canada/

Related Articles

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See earlier

Canadian researchers to carry out first test flight to use 100% jet biofuel from GM Brassica carinata

Date added: October 3, 2012

GreenAir reports that a joint initiative involving the National Research Council of Canada is working on the first-ever civil aircraft flight to use 100% unblended jet biofuel, which is under the brand name ReadiJet, A twin-engined Falcon 20 aircraft belonging to NRC will use fuel derived from Canadian-grown Brassica carinata supplied by Agrisoma Biosciences. They say this is a non-food crop which is grown on the Canadian southern Prairies. It appears that Brassica carinata is being genetically modified to produce the oils wanted for jet fuel. More than 40 commercial growers in Western Canada were contracted this year to grow over 6,000 acres (2,400ha) of the crop that will be used to create the fuel for the engine performance and emissions flight testing. In April a test flight used 1% of this fuel. They say the crop is grown on marginal ground in the brown soil zone regions of western Canada.

Click here to view full story…

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Growing Biofuels on “Surplus” Land May Be Harder Than Estimated

Degraded or marginal lands may not be able to productively support the growth of biofuel crops, contrary to previous reports. Biofuels companies hope that surplus land, or land unused in either conservation or agricultural production, offers an elegant solution to the food versus fuel arguments that have plagued bioenergy. The problem, according to a new study in the journal BioRisk, is that the productive capacity of known surplus lands may be greatly overestimated. It is necessary to ascertain “who’s living on the land, who’s working on the land, what ecosystems services you’re dealing with — we might find out there’s a whole lot of land we just can’t convert into anything else.” Availability of water, soil quality, conservation requirements, GHG emssions from disturbed soils and existing habitation or other human use are all factors that need to be taken into consideration — and have sometimes been ignored — when designating marginal land for the production of biofuel.Even hearty species like switchgrass and miscanthus tend to yield less biomass when planted in nutrient-poor or degraded soil.

 


A new study shows that degraded, marginal or abandoned land may not be very productive for growing fuel crops

By Nathanael Massey  (Scientific American)

 Fallow State Game Land 187, Luzerne County.
SURPLUS LAND: Degraded or marginal lands may not be able to productively support the growth of biofuel crops, contrary to previous reports.Image: Flickr/Nicholas_T

There’s money to be made in the barren corners of the world.

From the California desert to the badlands around Chernobyl, Ukraine, bioenergy is taking root in the form of moss and algae. In Ireland and Denmark, farmers are planting switchgrass and miscanthus in low-grade soil, hoping to turn a profit on biofuels markets.

Surplus land, or land unused in either conservation or agricultural production, offers an elegant solution to the food versus fuel arguments that have plagued bioenergy since its inception. If you can’t grow food on it, the logic runs, why not plant fuel?

The problem, according to a new study in the journal BioRisk, is that the productive capacity of known surplus lands may be greatly overestimated. A number of caveats need to be taken into consideration when assessing land, particularly degraded, marginal or abandoned land, as a potential site for biofuels, the study finds.

“When we looked at the different estimates of [the size] of existing surplus land, we saw a huge variability of assessments,” said Jens Dauber, a researcher at the Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute of Biodiversity and lead author of the study. “The different groups of researchers were comparing different types of land, and there was no consensus over what is or isn’t surplus land.”

“If you want to make a better map of our land use — who’s living on the land, who’s working on the land, what ecosystems services you’re dealing with — we might find out there’s a whole lot of land we just can’t convert into anything else,” he added.

Putting the brakes on bioenergy
Many countries, particularly in Europe, include ambitious biofuel quotas as part of their short- and long-term renewable energy goals. This has catalyzed an aggressive top-down approach that often fails to properly assess the specific characteristics of a particular landscape, and sometimes leads to lower-than-expected yields, wasted investment and dissolution among farmers.

“Pressure is going to increase because many countries have set their bioenergy targets very high,” Dauber said. “To meet our 2050 targets, we still don’t know where we’re going to plants the crops we need.”

A collaborative work by 11 scientists in Europe and the United States, the BioRiskstudy identifies a series of caveats that must be taken into consideration when assessing the viability of surplus land for biofuel cultivation.

The study finds that availability of water resources, soil quality, conservation requirements, greenhouse gas emissions from disturbed soils and existing habitation or other human use are all factors that need to be taken into consideration — and have sometimes been ignored — when designating marginal land for the production of biofuel.

Even hearty species like switchgrass and miscanthus, perennial species that grow in regions unsuitable for agriculture, tend to yield less biomass when planted in nutrient-poor or degraded soil, Dauber said.

Coming at the problem from both sides
Rather than the top-down approach to bioenergy taken in the past, the study advocates a stronger role for local players, like farmers and regional governments, in assessing the viability of new projects.

These parties tend to better understand the complex interplay of water, soil and human use that accompanies any given landscape, Dauber said.

At the same time, action from the top — from national governments or intergovernmental bodies — is necessary to ensure long-term stability in bioenergy markets, he said.

“You have to create demand for crops,” he added. “Perennial crops will be on the land for 10 to 20 years, and farmers need to know that in that time, there will still be customers to take their products.”

arming surplus land will also require a departure from long-standing practices of industrialized monoculture farming, according to the study. Because conditions vary so widely across marginal, degraded and other designated surplus regions, each section of terrain will likely require a tailored approach.

Mixing crops, like switchgrass and legumes, could help restore fallow land while at the same time yielding viable biofuel products, Dauber said.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=growing-biofuels-on-surplus-land-may-be-harder-than-estimated&WT.mc_id=SA_sharetool_Twitter

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Some of the  comments under the article:

There is a very good reason why farmers leave marginal lands as pasture and woodlots. The land is usually to hilly, stone filled, or swampy. To drain, level, and remove all stone, to enable heavy machinery required to seed, husband, and harvest, from marginal lands. IT would seem to defeat any environmental goals.

Besides, it is already productive, as pasture for grazing animals, both domestic and wild. Unlike us they can convert grass to meat and milk. These marginal lands are a refuge for the wild kingdom. They also connect one woodland to another.

We should show some restraint in the conversions of such lands to fuel depots.

Unproductive land is not ‘wasteland’. It is often the last refuge for native wildlife.

We should be returning more land to ‘unproductive use’…not the reverse!

What does it take to grow crops on marginal land? And where does this fertilizer come from? And what is the cost of transporting the fertilizer?

There’s always night soil, but how does it get out to the field?

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AirportWatch comment:

So much for the hopes of Boeing that they can both double the number of commercial aircraft flying, between now and 2050. And that they will be able to obtain half the fuel they need for that from so-called “sustainable” biofuels.  Aviation will need to compete with all the terrestrial demand for “sustainable” biofuels, and it does not look likely that there will be enough, especially with this problem of lands presumed to be “spare” for the growing of biofuel crops.

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Boeing executive: Industry ‘begging’ for biofuels – they need quality and quantity

A Boeing executive has said the global aviation industry is actively seeking to incorporate biofuels in its aircraft.  The airline industry is “begging” for biofuels and is committed to using them in their fleets.  He was speaking at the  Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis. He said his industry is a market  just waiting for people biofuel producers to scale their products up, and if they can produce these fuels in large amounts, aviation will buy them.  Airlines are having to reduce their carbon footprint and one means to do this is the use of biofuels. Boeing said  the world’s fleet of 20,000 commercial aircraft is expected to grow to 40,000 in 20 years. That is likely to bring the % of aviation CO2 emissions to 4% (probably more) out of the global anthropogenic CO2 total. The industry is aware that CO2 emissions are a problem for their unfettered growth. The industry can only grow hugely if it can make some efficiency improvement, find a magic bullet in biofuels, or trade carbon permits with other sectors. Boeing hopes biofuels will halve aviation’s CO2 emissions by 2050. (Not very likely – where can they locate that much genuinely “sustainable” biofuel from, that is not being used by other sectors?).

Boeing executive: Industry ‘begging’ for biofuels

October 05, 2012  (AgriNews online)

Boeing Co. executive Jim Tracy, speaking at the Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis, says the aviation industry is actively seeking to incorporate biofuels in its aircraft and has set some lofty goals. ST. LOUIS — The global airline industry is “begging” for biofuels and is committed to using them in their fleets, according to an executive with a major airplane manufacturer.

Jim Tracy, a senior vice president and chief technology officer with the Boeing Co., came to the region to seek help for advanced development of renewable fuels.

“I bring very good news to this group,” said Tracy, speaking at the Ag Innovation Showcase. “The commercial aviation business is begging for a high-quality, high-quantity biofuel to come into the market.

“There’s a market here just waiting for people like you to scale these products up. If you build it, we will buy it.”

Airlines are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and have been taking steps to meet that goal. Among them is the use of biofuels.

Tracy pointed out that the world’s fleet of 20,000 commercial aircraft is expected to grow to 40,000 in 20 years.

“When doubling the fleet, you’ve got to be concerned about increasing manmade CO2 you’re putting into the atmosphere,” he said. “We’re very sensitive about the amount of CO2 that commercial operations put into the environment.”

Aviation contributes about 2 percent of the total manmade carbon emissions, and a doubling of the fleet would expand that to 3 percent or 4 percent by 2030, according to Tracy. Biofuels will play an important role in an ambitious goal by the industry.

“Our vision is that by 2050 we will have half of the CO2 being produced that was being produced in 2005,” Tracy said. “I don’t mean reducing the growth rate by half. I mean half of the CO2 produced by commercial airplanes in 2005 will be gone. The only way we can achieve that is by biofuels.

“The reason I’m here is, I want your help. We can’t achieve our vision for commercial aviation without your innovation and creativity, without your developing new businesses that efficiently produce the feedstock products and get them into the market.”

Renewable energy is only one of a number of strategies the industry is embracing in order to reduce carbon emissions. Boeing and its competitors have a more direct role by producing more efficient aircraft, including a commitment to making future models 15% more efficient.

The passenger industry also is working at increasing efficiency through air traffic management. That includes reducing circling maneuvers prior to landing and spending less time with engines running on the runway.

“We believe you can reduce the amount of fuel used by 12 percent just by a more efficient system,” Tracy said. “And you’ll be happier because you wouldn’t be sitting on the ground or you wouldn’t be in the air as long.”

Renewable fuel, however, is a major component because of the sheer volume of petroleum used in the aviation industry. Fuel comprises 40 percent of the airlines’ cost, a total of $176 billion annually

“That’s before they paid the crews. That’s before they bought the airplanes,” Tracy said. “Fuel is their biggest single expense. The price, availability and quality — these are all huge things to our business. We’re hopeful that by 2020 the cost will be competitive, as well. By 2030, 30 percent of the fuel can be biofuel and by 2040, 50 percent of it.”

The industry is actively looking at all sources of renewable energy, including oilseeds, sugar, cellulosic and algae.

All have pros and cons, according to Tracy. That’s why the industry is encouraging scientists to develop the most efficient types.

Tracy stressed that sources should be diverse and distributed across the globe, so that sufficient supplies may be found in all regions.

They should also be tank-ready, he said, unlike hydrogen fuels for cars, which require manufacturing alterations or special fueling stations.

Use of aviation biofuels is not a pipe dream. Tracy pointed out that planes have been flying for several years using some form of renewable fuels.

More than 1,500 commercial flights have operated using some biofuel. The Department of Defense also has begun using biofuels in its airplanes.

Boeing has no intention in getting involved directly with biofuels production, according to Tracy. Instead, the company is acting as a cheerleader of sorts, encouraging advances in the industry.

“We want to serve as a catalyst and bring people together, whether they’re agronomists or biologists or chemical engineers, to encourage them that this market is there and it’s waiting,” he said.

http://www.agrinews-pubs.com/articles/news/moneynews/default.asp?Article=FB07BEEF5F37C296D88B762F973301A659EC0BE0A8C219F5

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European Commission weakens biofuel rule changes by excluding ILUC factors

The European Commission has watered down proposals to reduce the indirect climate impact of biofuels (ILUC). This means fuel suppliers will not, as originally planned, be held accountable for the ILUC biofuels cause by displacing food production into new areas, resulting in forest clearance and peatland draining.  “The 5% limit is still in, but the ILUC factors are now purely for reporting purposes and not part of the sustainability accounting rules for biofuels.” The plan to limit the use of crop-based biofuels to 5% of total EU transport energy demand by 2020 represents a virtual halving of the EU’s existing goal for a 10% share of renewables by 2020. Fuel suppliers will be free to continue blending biodiesel made from rapeseed, palm oil and soybeans into their fuels and claiming credit for cutting emissions, despite EU scientific studies showing that overall emissions from biodiesel are higher than fossil fuel.



This relates to road traffic, but could have implications for biofuel used for aviation

EU Commission weakens biofuel rule changes 

Oct 16, 2012  (Reuters)

* Penalties for biofuels’ indirect emissions removed

* New limit on use of crop-based biofuels remains

* Commission to formally present draft rules Wednesday

BRUSSELS, Oct 16 (Reuters) – The European Commission has watered down proposals to reduce the indirect climate impact of biofuels, but is sticking to a strict new limit on the amount of food crops that can be used to make fuel, EU sources said on Tuesday.

The late changes mean that fuel suppliers will not, as originally planned, be held accountable for the indirect emissions biofuels cause by displacing food production into new areas, resulting in forest clearance and peatland draining – known in EU jargon as ILUC factors.

“The 5 percent limit is still in, but the ILUC factors are now purely for reporting purposes and not part of the sustainability accounting rules for biofuels,” one EU source involved in the discussions said.

The plan to limit the use of crop-based biofuels to 5 percent of total EU transport energy demand by 2020 represents a virtual halving of the EU’s existing goal for a 10 percent share of renewables in transport by the end of the decade.

A Commission source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the proposed indirect land use change (ILUC) emission factors for biofuels made from cereals, sugars and oilseeds would carry no legislative weight.

As a result, fuel suppliers will be free to continue blending biodiesel made from rapeseed, palm oil and soybeans into their fuels and claiming credit for cutting emissions, despite EU scientific studies showing that overall emissions from biodiesel are higher than fossil fuel.

The change is a victory for European biodiesel producers, who had said the Commission’s original proposal would wipe out their industry practically overnight.

But the move could harm ethanol producers, who had been expected to increase dramatically their share of the EU biofuel market from a current 20 percent, at the expense of dominant biodiesel.

The Commission will formally present its proposals on Wednesday, after which the rules must be jointly agreed by EU governments and lawmakers in a process that could take up to two years. (Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; editing by Rex Merrifield)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/16/eu-biofuels-idUSL5E8LGKSB20121016

 

Related Reuters News

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See also

Study: Biofuels mandate could increase EU CO2 emissions

Euractiv   17.9.2012

European biofuel mandates are unlikely to deliver a significant reduction and could even increase greenhouse gas emissions unless land use factors are considered, says a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

Details at

http://www.euractiv.com/energy/biofuels-increase-net-co2-emissi-news-514812

Read more »

Canadian researchers to carry out first test flight to use 100% jet biofuel from GM Brassica carinata

GreenAir reports that a joint initiative involving the National Research Council of Canada is working on the first-ever civil aircraft flight to use 100% unblended jet biofuel, which is under the brand name ReadiJet,  A twin-engined Falcon 20 aircraft belonging to NRC will use fuel derived from Canadian-grown Brassica carinata supplied by Agrisoma Biosciences. They say this is a non-food crop which is grown on the Canadian southern Prairies. It appears that Brassica carinata is being  genetically modified to produce the oils wanted for jet fuel.  More than 40 commercial growers in Western Canada were contracted this year to grow over 6,000 acres (2,400ha) of the crop that will be used to create the fuel for the engine performance and emissions flight testing. In April a test flight used 1% of this fuel. They say the crop is grown on marginal ground in the brown soil zone regions of western Canada.

 


Canadian researchers to carry out first-ever civil aircraft test flight to use 100 per cent jet biofuel

2 Oct 2012  (GreenAir online)

A joint initiative involving the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is paving the way for the first-ever civil aircraft flight to use 100% unblended jet biofuel.

A twin-engined Falcon 20 aircraft belonging to NRC will use fuel derived from Canadian-grown Brassica carinata supplied by Agrisoma Biosciences. The Resonance brand industrial oilseed non-food crop is ideally suited for production in semi-arid regions such as the Canadian southern Prairies, says Agrisoma. More than 40 commercial growers in Western Canada were contracted this year to grow over 6,000 acres (2,400ha) of the crop that will be used to create the fuel for the engine performance and emissions flight testing. Canada’s first revenue biofuel flight conducted by Porter Airlines in April used a blend that contained one per cent of fuel made from Agrisoma’s feedstock.

Other partners in the project include Applied Research Associates (ARA), Chevron Lummus Global, the Government of Canada’s Clean Transportation Initiatives and the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN).

“This is a perfect example of how industry and government work together to bridge the gap between Canadian innovation and commercialisation,” said Dr Roman Szumski, Vice-President for Life Sciences at NRC.

Commented Dr Steven Fabijanski, President & CEO of Agrisoma: “NRC’s expertise across many technology areas and their first-class flight research services are helping us to complete the validation cycle of Resonance. The upcoming flight will showcase Resonance-based biofuels as a viable alternative for the aviation industry.”

The company says the vigorous crop has been specifically developed for production on marginal ground in the brown soil zone regions of western Canada, with good resistance to biotic and abiotic stressors, excellent harvestability, as well as good lodging and shatter resistance. Trials have shown it to deliver oil content of 44% with yields that deliver attractive economics for growers.

[ It appears this is probably a genetically modified crop  and introduction of stragegic genes into Brassica carinata  and Canadian Food Inspection Agency  and novel industrial oil seed crops for Canada - AirportWatch note. See below]

The biofuel, under the brand name ReadiJet, has been produced by ARA under contract to the US Air Force Research Laboratory using technology developed by ARA and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG). ARA says its Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) process mimics nature’s way of converting biomass to petroleum crude. While nature’s processes take millions of years, it takes minutes for the CH process to turn plant oils into a high-quality crude oil intermediate, claims the company.

The process uses water at high temperature and pressure to both crack and cyclise plant or algal oils into compounds that are ideal for jet and diesel fuels, reports ARA. The technology does not depend on conventional hydrocracking processes, is less expensive to build and operate, does not require hydrocracking catalysts and the CH crude oil requires less hydrogen for refining into finished fuels, adds the company.

ARA, which has a US patent on the process, says the technology has been proven in mature pilot systems.

CLG’s ISOCONVERSION catalysts upgrade the intermediate into on-specification, finished drop-in fuels that are fungible and nearly identical to petroleum derived fuels.

The ReadiJet fuel is tailored to meet all commercial and military jet fuel specifications, says ARA, which will test the fuel with NRC against ASTM and military specifications and evaluate it in ground-based tests before the Falcon 20 test flight.

The NRC Falcon 20 will be trailed during the test flight by a T-33 aircraft equipped to measure in-flight emissions, allowing for later evaluation of the fuel’s emissions performance.

“The integrated ARA/CLG ISOCONVERSION process and Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock provide a pathway for fulfilling the commercial and military markets’ requirements for alternative fuels at parity with petroleum while spurring opportunities for farmers,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s Alternative Fuels Program Lead. “We look forward to this partnership with NRC to help us validate the combination of Canadian developed and grown feedstocks and our processing technology as a leading alternative fuel solution.”

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1599

 

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Earlier

Bombardier Q400 plane to make first Canadian commercial flight on 49% Camelina + 1% GM brassica carinata

22.3.2012

In mid-April, Porter Airlines plans to use one of its Bombardier 70- to 80-seat Q400 turboprop airliners to conduct the first biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada. It has already made a biofuel test flight.  Rather cynically they are timing their flight close to Earth Day “to emphasize the contribution that biofuels are expected to make in helping the aviation industry meet its targeted reduction in emissions,” and there are a lot of worthy-sounding green sentiments expressed about carbon savings …. the usual over-optimistic greenwash stuff. The fuel they will use will be 50% biofuel, and of that 49% camelina and 1% Brassica carinata (a member of the brassica family, similar to rape, and also called Ethiopian mustard).  Targeted Growth Canada (TGC) produced the crop of Camelina. The 1% Brassica carinata may be a GM crop, being grown in Canada. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=1672 
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More about Braccica carinata

Details of genetically modified Brassica carinata from Agrisoma   http://agrisoma.com/#pageID=109  and  http://agrisoma.com/#pageID=85

Also

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/faminefood/category3/cat3_Brassica_carinata.htm

It appears this plant is edible, and is eaten a lot in Ethiopia, for its leaves and for its seeds. Also called Ethiopian mustard.

http://www.mendeley.com/research/brassica-carinata-as-an-alternative-oil-crop-for-the-production-of-biodiesel-in-italy-agronomic-evaluation-fuel-production-by-transesterification-and-characterization/

It appears to be similar to rape which is Brassica napus

http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/92040/D87D4B363C3007143A374DFD0CAA0378B4A4B129.html

And more about it at

http://www.producer.com/2012/01/jets-test-fuel-from-new-oilseed%E2%80%A9/

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 Also

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Links from GreenAir online:
National Research Council of Canada
Agrisoma Biosciences
Applied Research Associates
Chevron Lummus Global
Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN)
Related GreenAir Online articles:

Global use of sustainable aviation fuels widens with first commercial flights for South America, Australia and Canada
Global use of sustainable aviation fuels widens with first commercial flights for South America, Australia and Canada
Canadian programme formed to undertake camelina-sourced biofuel test flight of a Bombardier turboprop
Canadian programme formed to undertake camelina-sourced biofuel test flight of a Bombardier turboprop
CLONE – Canadian programme formed to undertake camelina-sourced biofuel test flight of a Bombardier turboprop

Read more »

Lufthansa turns to algae and municipal solid waste as sources of jet biofuel

In a long and detailed article, with customary thoroughness, Green Air examines what is happening with Lufthansa and jet biofuel. While Solena has still not announced progress on building a plant in east London to produce  jet fuel from London’s municipal waste for BA, it is progressing in Germany. There are plans in the Schwedt/Oder region of eastern Germany to build a Solena facility, using waste from landfills and incinerators. They hope to convert more than 520,000 tonnes of waste biomass into jet fuel, diesel fuel and electricity. Lufthansa is also looking to obtain jet fuel made from algae by Australian based Algae.Tec, which plans to grow algae in 40 ft shipping containers, using light capture arrays and light tubes, and CO2 from an industrial source – as well as water and minerals. Algae.Tec have so far opened a one-container test facility south of Sydney. 

 


 

Algae.Tec’s McConchie-Stroud growth and harvesting system, constructed inside shipping containers

Lufthansa turns to algae and municipal solid waste in quest for new sources of sustainable jet biofuel

Fri 21 Sept 2012  ( GreenAir online)

In its quest to secure new sources of sustainable jet biofuel, Lufthansa has signed agreements with Solena Fuels and Australian-based Algae.Tec.

Solena has already identified a site for its first production facility in Germany, situated not far from the border with Poland in the Schwedt/Oder region. The project will be the first of its kind in Central Europe to provide synthetic biofuels from large-scale waste from landfills and incinerators. It will provide Lufthansa with drop-in, certified jet fuel for prospective use on commercial flights.

Solena says an announcement on progress concerning its proposed London project with British Airways is imminent.

Algae.Tec’s collaborative deal with Lufthansa involves the construction of a large-scale plant in Europe to produce aviation biofuel from algae.  Both companies took part in the Alternative Aviation Fuels Pavilion at the ILA Air Show in Berlin last week, along with other biofuel producers including natural gas to jet fuel technology company Primus Green Energy.

“Lufthansa is pleased to assist Solena in developing its first plant in Germany and is working towards a long-term, bankable offtake agreement with Solena Fuels,” said Joachim Buse, the airline’s Vice President Aviation Biofuels. “We believe that Solena’s capabilities to process multiple types of waste feedstock represent a good opportunity in our endeavour to meet our emission reduction commitments.”

The German facility will convert more than 520,000 tonnes of waste biomass into jet fuel, diesel fuel and electricity. The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the two parties will see the joint development of fuel supplies and delivery to the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which is due to open in a year’s time.

“Lufthansa has been a pioneer in the biofuels industry and we are pleased to see their support to Fischer-Tropsch bio-synthetic paraffinic kerosene (FT-SPK), an industry accepted fuel which meets and exceeds ETS standards based on both Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels schemes and Renewable Energy Directive methodology for life-cycle analysis evaluation,” commented Solena CEO Dr Robert Do.

He told GreenAir that the early identification and approval of the refinery site at the PCK Industry Park in Schwedt/Oder had contrasted with the length of time it was taking to select and get the necessary planning permission for a site in east London for its GreenSky project with British Airways.

Do also said the technology that will be used in the London plant will be blueprinted for the German facility. He indicated that an important announcement would soon be made on the London project.

The existing PCK Refinery at the industrial park is among the largest companies in the state of Brandenburg and processes around 12 million tonnes of crude oil annually into mineral oil and petrochemical products, including jet fuel for Berlin’s airports. It was also one of the first refineries in Germany to use biofuels and is a leading producer of high-quality biofuel components.

“It was a pleasure for us to assist Solena in identifying a plant location that offers close proximity to biomass waste, jet fuel logistics to Berlin Brandenburg Airport and synergies with both traditional and biofuel refineries,” said Dr Marcus Schmidt, Director Chemicals at Germany Trade & Invest. “Solena’s facility will create substantial economic, development and employment opportunities benefiting the greater Schwedt/Oder area and the State of Brandenburg.”

The location for the Algae.Tec facility to produce jet biofuel from algae for Lufthansa has not yet been revealed – although it is likely to be in southern Europe – but it will be close to an industrial CO2 source, a prerequisite for the company’s technology, which captures carbon pollution from power stations and manufacturing facilities to feed into the algae growth system.

The process uses enclosed photo-bioreactors that are retrofitted into 40-foot shipping containers linked to solar light capture arrays. The containers can be linked together as modules, depending on the scale of production required.

“We put sunlight inside the containers via a fibre optic tube, take CO2 from the facility and add water and nutrients,” Algae-Tec’s Managing Director, Peter Hatfull, told GreenAir. “The technology inside the box is basically a very large surface area we have developed so, in effect, what is created is a very large pond and ideal growing conditions. This in turn creates a perpetual algal bloom within our boxes.”

What eventually comes out of the process is vegetable oil and a biomass of simple sugars and edible protein, which can be turned into animal feed or further hydro-cracked into jet fuel.

“The key to the technology is the high-volume growth we get that brings down the cost structure,” said Hatfull. “Compared to a pond system, it’s controllable and you can put it where you like, in different sizes and around your CO2 source. On a net basis, for every tonne of algae we produce, we capture two tonnes of CO2.” [ ? ]

Although the technology has only been tested under small-scale conditions and so far for less than a year, he is confident each container module is capable of producing 250 tonnes of algae per year. A standard plant consisting of 500 modules would therefore produce 125,000 tonnes per year and capture 250,000 tonnes of stackgas CO2 emissions.

At an operational cost of around US$185/tonne plus $50/tonne capital cost, Hatfull said this equated to “a very competitive” price of between $40 to $50 per barrel of oil. He estimates a two-year payback on the capital costs, with a minimum 20 to 30 modules necessary to break even but anticipates 250 to 500 being the more likely set-up for a commercial operation.

Last month, Algae.Tec opened a one-container test facility next to a flour waste to ethanol manufacturing plant south of Sydney with the aim of producing jet fuel. If the test goes according to plan then a 250-module plant will be built, potentially upgradable to 500. The photo-bioreactors were manufactured at Algae.Tec’s USA headquarters in Atlanta, which boasts a state-of-the-art laboratory, multiple test units and a fabrication facility.

Although a number of the major algae-based biotech companies are eyeing the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets as a potentially more lucrative income stream, Hatfull says this is not as attractive to Algae.Tec as jet fuel. “At the moment, airlines are showing tremendous interest in buying sustainable fuels at a competitive price and they have to do something about their carbon footprint. They are the ideal partners.”

Algae.Tec has recently recruited former Qantas sustainable fuels specialist Colin McGregor as General Manager Project Operations.

The relationship with Lufthansa is at an early MoU stage but Hatfull expects it to progress to an offtake agreement. “They are willing to partner with us to identify sites and talk to CO2 producers,” he says. “They have a real desire to do something to get a source of sustainable fuel.”

Another biofuel producer in the process of setting up a similar partnership with a major airline is US-based Primus Green Energy. The company is a developer of a syngas-to-gasoline technology that converts natural gas and/or biomass into high-quality, high-octane gasoline and jet fuel. With a pilot plant already in operation at its New Jersey headquarters, Primus is in the process of building an automated demonstration plant on the site.

Now it is planning to break ground next year on a commercial-scale plant in Louisiana capable of producing between 20 and 30 million gallons of fuel per year by the end of 2015, with 80% of the production in time being renewable jet fuel. Primus is in the process of reaching an agreement very shortly with an unnamed major US airline to take the full jet fuel output on a long-term – between 10 and 20 years – basis.

Details are still being worked out, said George Boyajian, VP Business Development of Primus at the ILA Air Show, but the airline may take the feedstock and front-end pricing risk as part of the agreement. The terms of the pricing structure of the jet fuel to the airline will remain confidential for the time being, he says. “We have a couple of different models but it largely depends on how they get their price on the front end. They have been very flexible and innovative on putting this deal together. For them, reducing the variability of the cost of the jet fuel is their highest priority. Their attitude has been ‘what do we need to do to make this succeed?’.”

Added Primus CEO Robert Johnsen: “And then the contract will become the basis that enables us to project finance the $180 million construction cost of this facility.”

The Primus technology of converting the feedstock to syngas and using a catalytic process to convert it to drop-in jet fuel is similar to Fischer-Tropsch (FT) but has many advantages over FT, said Boyajian.  Capital and operating costs are much lower as the number of end products are lower – one or two, compared to six or seven from FT, he said. The Primus process also has a considerable advantage in terms of conversion efficiency by mass of the feedstock, which means more gasoline or jet fuel can be produced at a lower cost and competitive with fossil-based crude equivalents, at around $2 per gallon without a government subsidy, he claimed.

A controversial aspect of the process is that biomass feedstock can be replaced or supplemented with natural gas, of which there are abundant supplies in the United States compared with unreliable and potentially costly sources of woody or herbaceous biomass. Not all airlines will be comfortable with using natural gas as feedstock, despite claims of lower carbon life-cycle emissions than petroleum-based fuels. However, said Boyajian, locking in at current natural gas prices on a long-term basis, say for 10 years, could provide jet fuel at an equivalent price of around $70 per barrel. Even if in the unlikely event the price of natural gas was to treble, it would still represent a per barrel price of only $100, he added.

Another downside is that the pathway has not yet been approved by ASTM for use in commercial airline operations but Primus is confident that its high-quality jet fuel product will be passed within three years.

“We’ve had samples of our fuels tested in the labs and they have come up very well,” said Johnsen. “We have a partner that we will be announcing shortly who will guide us through the approvals process. The process will require a bigger supply of samples for testing purposes and we will be able to produce them at our new demo plant from next year.”

Given the ASTM approval hurdle and that its high-octane gasoline product is superior in quality to fuel found at the pumps, what is the attraction for Primus to supply the airline sector with jet biofuel rather than gasoline for ground transport? “It’s a discrete market that isn’t going to go away in that it isn’t going to be replaced by electric power,” said Johnsen. “The end users are so motivated to work with us and to have an alternative to crude that they are prepared to engage in a long-term supply contract that we in turn need in order to build a plant. We can provide a domestic North American solution that is an alternative to the global crude oil price mechanism they are currently subject to.”

 

Links:
Lufthansa – Biofuels
Solena Fuels
Algae.Tec
Primus Green Energy

 

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1593

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Old 40 ft (12.2 m) shipping containers are converted into photobioreactors

21/09/2012

Lufthansa branches into algae jet fuel

Algae.Tec’s method produces oil for under A$40/bbl

Helen Tunnicliffe

GERMAN airline Lufthansa has signed a deal with Algae.Tec to build an industrial-scale aviation biofuels plant.

The plant will produce crude algal oil for conversion into jet fuel and biodiesel. Under the agreement, Lufthansa will provide the funding to build the plant and agree to purchase at least 50% of the oil produced for a set period of time. Algae.Tec will manage the project and receive licence fees and profits.

The plant’s location has yet to be agreed, but it will be in Europe and adjacent to an industrial source of carbon dioxide, which is needed for algae growth. The size and cost of this project has not been revealed, but in August, Algae.Tec chairman Roger Stroud said that a commercial-scale facility using its technology would cost A$80–120m (US$84–126m).

Algae.Tec’s enclosed McConchie-Stroud system has been recognised for its low use of water and land. Old 40 ft (12.2 m) shipping containers are converted into photobioreactors, which are attached to solar light capture arrays. Carbon dioxide captured from power stations or manufacturing facilities is pumped through the reactors. 500 modules could produce 125,000 t/y of algae and capture 250,000 t/y of carbon dioxide emissions. The cost of the oil is less than A$40/bbl.

Lufthansa is not the first airline to seek alternative sources of aviation fuel. In May, US airline Delta bought the Trainer refinery in Pennsylvania, US, for US$150m and will spend a further US$100m to maximise jet fuel production. It hopes to minimise the impact of rising kerosene prices

http://www.tcetoday.com/latest%20news/2012/september/lufthansa%20branches%20into%20algae%20jet%20fuel.aspx

 

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Lufthansa pilots algae jet fuel plant in Europe

By BusinessGreen Staff
Published September 21, 2012
Lufthansa pilots algae jet fuel plant in Europe

In related news, aircraft traffic services company NATS has teamed up with British Airways (BA) for a four-month trial of environmentally “perfect” transatlantic flights, which could help reduce the impact of the projected doubling of European air traffic by 2030.

The first phase of the Topflight project will see 60 BA flights experiment with operational techniques such as taxiing to an optimized flight profile and continuous descent approach designed to achieve minimal emissions and delay.

It is expected that each trip will save approximately 500kg in fuel, equivalent to 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions. A previous collaboration between the two in 2010 saw a single environmentally optimized flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh save a quarter of a ton of fuel and nearly one ton of CO2.

The project, which comes under the auspices of the European Community’s Single European Sky initiative (SESAR), would then look at introducing multiple “perfect” flights crossing the Atlantic simultaneously to prove that the concept is viable for the industry as a whole.

“Topflight is an exciting opportunity to prove the ‘perfect’ flight concept is scalable and sustainable in an operational environment,” said Patrick Ky, executive director at the SESAR Joint Undertaking. “If successful, the trial could have a profound impact on the way the aviation industry works in the future.”

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/09/21/lufthansa-algae-jet-fuel-plant-europe?page=0%2C1

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First possible sign of activity on the London Solena biofuel plant – of which nothing has been heard for several years:

January 22, 2014

Solena Fuels Corporation is pleased to announce that David K. Lyle has joined Solena as Vice President, Executive Project Director. As Solena’s Executive Project Director, Mr. Lyle will be responsible for managing and delivering Solena’s IBGTL [ means Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid] solution from FEED [means front end engineering and design] through commissioning of each plant starting with Solena’s flagship project in London.
http://www.solenafuels.com/index.php/in-the-news/10-solena-makes-the-news-items/42-solena-fuels-strengthens-management-team

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Germany and the US strengthen ties to develop alternative aviation fuels with intergovernmental agreement

The German Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany  (aireg) and the American Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), have signed an agreement to co-operate on developing biofuels for aviation. Aireg  wants  biofuel making up 10% of aviation fuel in Germany by 2015. They both want government help in getting aviation biofuel started, and scaling it up commercially. They want harmonisation of standards between Europe and the USA until a global standard could be agreed. They want government to ensure that biomass and biofuels are available for use by airlines.  They say “Governments need to ensure policies and incentives are in place and venture capital is available for financing research and infrastructure towards the transition to large-scale production. And they talk about jobs and growth, from bio jet fuels. No specific feed stock is mentioned.


Germany and the US strengthen ties to develop alternative aviation fuels with intergovernmental agreement

14.9.2012 (GreenAir online)

The German and United States governments this week signed an agreement to cooperate on further development of alternative aviation fuels.

The agreement will focus on harmonising sustainability standards, working towards approval for new processes, expanding the availability of raw materials and commercialisation.

It will also strengthen the growing relationship between the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), http://www.caafi.org/   the US industry, research and government agency coalition, and its German equivalent aireg. ( http://www.aireg.de/en/  Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany )

Joachim Buse, aireg Vice-President and responsible for Lufthansa’s biofuel programme, said an aim of aireg was to see sustainable biofuel making up 10% of total jet fuel consumption in Germany by 2025.

The signing took place at the ILA Berlin Air Show, where aireg and CAAFI held a high-ranking conference to discuss the future of alternative aviation fuels.

“Our two nations agree that aviation has to make an essential contribution to more climate protection and more energy efficiency,” said Dr Peter Ramsauer, the German Federal Minister of Transport, at the agreement signing ceremony. The industry target of halving carbon emissions by 2050 was extremely ambitious, he said, but air transport was a global sector and the agreement would serve as an example for other governments in the world to follow.

“With the US-German intergovernmental agreement, we aim to make research and development in alternative aviation fuels even more dynamic,” he added. “This provides us with a good framework within which forward-looking solutions can be discussed.”

The US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, said the agreement and others that had been previously signed with Australia and Brazil would facilitate a technological exchange that would be an asset to the airline industry around the world.

“The US is committed to making aviation as clean and as energy efficient as possible as part of our NextGen air traffic modernisation goals,” he said. “Clean alternative fuels that can be used in existing aircraft are one of the best near-term tools to that end. They can help address some of the challenges that commercial aviation faces today, namely environmental impacts, fuel costs and energy security. The aerospace industry has often led the way in technical innovation and through initiatives like this, it is doing it again. Working with German and other partners to develop sustainable alternative jet fuels offers broad opportunities for aerospace to team with agriculture and energy to find solutions to the environmental challenges the world faces.”

Richard Altman, Executive Director of CAAFI, said cooperation between his organisation and German colleagues had been ongoing for six years, with strong existing partnerships already in place at many levels, and the formal agreement “is not the beginning but the end of the beginning and the real work begins for us.”

He said the agreement contained 19 elements covering many areas, from feedstocks to qualification processes to financing. There were no longer the resources to carry out all the necessary work in one single country but it was important to work together to ensure there was no overlaps or gaps left uncovered, he added.

The CAAFI and aireg relationship, said Altman, would serve as a model and template for the development and deployment of alternative sustainable aviation fuels in the rest of the world.

Setting out the goals of the agreement, Joachim Buse said that with different sustainability standards applying around the world, the harmonisation of standards between Europe and the United States was an important issue until a global standard could be agreed.

He pointed out that biomass produced by a US farmer under the US RFS standard would currently not be accepted within the EU as a sustainable food crop, and the same would apply in the other direction.

Another concern was the need for certification and approval of new feedstocks as other sources of biomass would need to be found for aviation purposes, particularly as Germany was not in a position to grow its own. Intergovernmental agreements on biomass supply, he said, would be needed to help this process.

“The signing of this agreement will not just have an impact at our level of cooperation but also relations at government level and that is a very important concern of ours,” said Buse. “We’re not trying to get an advantage for aviation compared to other modes of transport but we wish to ensure that biomass and biofuels are available for use by airlines.”

Buse said the goal for aireg airline members to be using 10% biokerosene in all jet fuel by 2025 would also require at least one second-generation biorefinery in Germany to produce synthetic fuel for airlines.

“We assume that the majority of raw materials required to fulfil our goal will come from outside of Germany. To make this work, both the raw materials suppliers and processors need reliable framework conditions.”

Second generation jet biofuels were still considerably more expensive than conventional and historically reliable Jet-A fuel, he added, and cooperation throughout the value chain, as well as government support at national and EU level was required to make them cost competitive. “We need start-up financing that allows us to build a bridge from small-scale to large-scale production so that we can benefit from the scaling-up effect. We do not advocate permanent subsidies but we want useful, systematic and directed support for a start so that aviation in Germany – not just aireg members but all airlines refuelling in Germany – is able to purchase jet biofuel at competitive prices.”

Aireg says it costs around $2,100 to produce one tonne of biokerosene compared to $925 for a tonne of fossil kerosene and is pushing for funding instruments such as investment grants for biorefineries or state price guarantees to ensure purchases of jet biofuel.

Buse added that a national development plan for alternative aviation fuels was required which included concrete dates and targets.

CAAFI’s Altman said current US projections suggested sustainable aviation biofuels derived from some processes could achieve cost parity with conventional fossil fuel by 2017. [These are likely to be from sources that compete directly with food].

Both Buse and Altman said they would welcome similar cooperation agreements with other countries and help build towards a common global solution. “Aireg already has international members such as Neste and Total, so it’s not limited to German companies,” said Buse. “We are happy to work with other initiatives wherever they are, as long as they have the same goals.”

Added Altman: “CAAFI too has 15 to 18 companies from all continents. Our idea is to build templates of cooperation in various areas as we have done in Australia and Brazil, and to globalise as soon as it becomes practical but not from a purely policy perspective but building up from a ‘doing’ perspective so we actually have solutions.”

Speaking at the aireg/CAAFI conference on Wednesday (12th), Matthias Ruete, the European Commission’s transport Director-General, said as part of the EU Biofuels Flightpath initiative – which is aiming to achieve an annual production of two million tonnes of sustainably produced biofuel for aviation by 2020 – it would be necessary to build international partnerships.

“We have always looked across the Atlantic with envy as our US friends have organised themselves much earlier and I very much welcome that Germany, through aireg, has formed a stable cooperation partnership,” he told delegates. “We need to make sure we get other partners involved in this. I was pleased to hear that cooperation with Russia was developing in the field of alternative aviation fuels.”

He said a case was being made within the Commission for additional funding for alternative fuels but the debate would not be easy given spending constraints. However, by the end of the year he anticipated budgets for the period 2014-20 would be agreed that would be based on jobs and growth. “I hope we will be able to create the necessary space in order that we can guarantee the Biofuels Flightpath will be part of this programme.”

EADS and former Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the conference: “No-one would have believed aviation biofuels would have developed at such a pace within only a few years.” However, it was necessary to push for large-scale production of such fuels that would require the commitment, involvement and investment of key stakeholders beyond the industry, he said.

“Governments need to ensure policies and incentives are in place and venture capital is available for financing research and infrastructure towards the transition to large-scale production.

“We will be able to achieve many things in aviation within a few years that seem unthinkable today if clear decisions are made and if the right political course is set now. Alternative aviation fuels are only at the beginning of their development. Many things are possible if policymakers, the industry and science strengthen their cooperation to shape the future of alternative fuels.”

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1590

Links:
aireg
CAAFI

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