EADS plans study of microalgae’s feedstock potential

Washington DC
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Airbus parent EADS and the Singapore government's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR) will collaborate on research focused on the feasibility of microalgae as a feedstock for alternative aviation fuels.

Sourcing adequate amounts of biofuel for flight demonstrations has been challenging for Airbus and at least two of its airline partners. Both JetBlue Airways and Mexican operator Interjet had originally scheduled Airbus A320 biofuel trials for early 2010 but both demonstrations have been postponed until at least 2011 due to feedstock supply issues.

In the meantime, EADS and ASTAR's Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences will assess microalgae's potential as a renewable feedstock for aviation jet fuel and will investigate the conversion of microalgae oil into kerosene for use as jet fuel during a 12-month period.

EADS says microalgae does not compete with food production for land resources, grows rapidly and requires limited nutrients to thrive.

Yann Barbaux of EADS says in a statement, "As a systems architect of airplanes, it is our responsibility to foster research on biofuels, even if we are not directly involved in the energy business. This collaboration with ASTAR will add the impressive skills, efficiency and determination of the Singaporean research and technology community to our efforts."

The collaboration is a follow up on the master research collaboration agreement (MRCA) signed by EADS and ASTAR in February 2008.