Not long after announcing its involvement with US bioenergy firm Solena on a project to build a plant in East London that will turn household waste into biofuel, British Airways has unveiled its participation in an algae-based jet fuel consortium called SURF.
The SURF (Sustainable Use of Renewable Fuels) consortium centres around an initiative at Cranfield University, which aims to produce commercial quantities of biofuel from algae within three years.
There is a growing sense of optimism about the use of biofuels as a replacement for kerosene, which I reported on from Farnborough here. But there are also a number of financial and legislative hurdles to overcome, as outlined by Jim Woodger of Honeywell's renewable energy and chemicals division at the recent Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva.
Breaking down the various biomass sources and giving an estimated timeframe for the availability of each one, Woodger said camelina is ready now, jatropha and halophytes will be ready in 2-4 years and algae will be ready in 5-8 years.
I'm interested in finding out more about halophytes, following a piece I wrote a few years ago about a NASA scientist's belief that within five years commercial aircraft could be powered using fuel derived from saltwater plants grown in the desert and irrigated with seawater.
Any feedback on the feasibility of this wacky-sounding idea would be gratefully received! I'd love to know how research is going.
We'll be continuing to track developments in the biofuels arena here at Flightglobal, and I'm constantly on the lookout for tips/info on exciting stuff that's going on in this area.
Also, look out for Flight International's next Environmental Special Report on 23 November, where we'll be taking an in-depth look at Hydrotreated Renewable Jet fuel (HRJ).