Last July, we looked at the burgeoning field of renewable jet fuels, and the ways in which the aviation industry is trying to wean off of jet fuels made from crude oil. One aviation giant in particular, Boeing, has been making significant leaps towards increasing the sustainability of aviation fuel in recent years.
In the fall of 2012, Boeing announced its plans to partner with the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to research and develop ways to make renewable jet fuels a commercially viable reality. The Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center first set out to show that airplanes can operate on a biofuel made from recycled cooking oil.
China uses some 29 millions tons of cooking oil annually and Chinese planes need approximately 20 million tons of fuel. The Boeing-COMAC Center tests have proved that airplanes can successfully fly on a mixture of jet fuel and biofuel from recycled cooking oil. These and other such early breakthroughs have opened the doors to research on a variety of other aviation biofuel feedstocks.
Terrence Scott, from Boeing’s Environmental Communications department, told Air Cargo World, “We’ve now moved beyond the technical feasibility questions. We know it works; we know there’s no engine issues; we know the performance values.”
That confidence has spurred new research and development projects all over the world, as Boeing hopes to utilize region specific biofuel feedstocks. Scott explained that “The issue now is not technical, it’s quantity. There’s a demonstrated industry demand for these fuels, but there’s not enough to go around.”
The official approval to fly using aviation grade biofuels came in 2011 from ASTM International, a worldwide aviation standards organization. Since then, some 1,500 commercial aircraft have flown using biofuels, and in June of 2011 Boeing made the first transatlantic flight to the Paris Air Show using renewable aviation jet fuel.
This video from Boeing highlights the innovative work they are doing in an effort to quickly expand the renewable jet fuels market. Sustainable America’s goal is to reduce oil usage in America 50% by 2030. Increasing production of advanced biofuels is one of the critical ways that America will be able to achieve this energy independence in the future.