Boeing and Comac set to begin biofuel research

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Boeing and Comac will begin their joint study into the use of biofuels for aircraft at a research centre in China.

The two aircraft manufacturers have selected Hangzhou Energy Engineering & Technology (HEET) to conduct the research of converting discarded cooking oil into biofuel, says Boeing.

The project aims to identify contaminants in waste cooking oil and the processes that may treat and clean the waste for use as jet fuel. The project will focus on demonstrating the feasibility of achieving significant cost reductions in converting waste oils to jet fuel through improvements in conversion efficiency and its associated technology in its first year.

"HEET is a strong partner for the Boeing-Comac technology centre's 'gutter oil' research project," says Boeing's China vice-president of research and technology Dong Yang Wu. "We are excited about opportunities to partner with leading research capabilities in China to accelerate the global push for renewable jet fuels and support commercial aviation's growth, while reducing its environmental footprint."

Boeing believes that waste cooking oil has the potential as feedstock for a sustainable biofuel production and as an alternative to petroleum-based fuel. China's aviation system uses 18.1 million tonnes of jet fuel annually, while domestic consumption uses 26.3 million tonnes of cooking oil.

"Finding more efficient ways to convert 'gutter oil' into jet fuel could increase regional biofuel supplies and improve [its] affordability, enhancing the potential for commercial use," adds Boeing.