Mexico joins Boeing and Honeywell in biofuel research

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Mexican aviation fuel services provider the Airports and Auxiliary Services Agency (ASA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing and Honeywell subsidiary UOP to research the potential for Mexico to produce materials for potential use in biofuel production.

During the leadership forum of the Latin American Airline Association (ALTA) today in Cartagena, Colombia, Boeing and ASA signed a memorandum of understanding to outline the partnership that should be finalised in roughly two weeks.

The research centres on assessing the potential for large-scale production of fuels from halophytes, algae, jatropha, castor and other potential biofuel materials.

With government-owned ASA having a near complete monopoly of aviation fuel supply in Mexico, its director of fuel services, Alejandro Rios, says the company's involvement in biofuel research will "allow us to be an important player in this industry".

Mexico plans to contribute to a broader effort recently launched by Boeing, UOP and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi to assess halophytes for biofuel use. Mexican researchers will work those partners to examine halophyte viability on the country's arid and degraded land.

Rios says halophytes have a high resistance to salinity and salt water can be used for their irrigation, which contributes to sustainability in a potential biofuel produced from the plant.

Specific elements of the study include land-use and energy requirements and identifying adverse ecological or social impacts.

The research should provide an understanding of Mexico's capacity to produce material for biofuel production. Results from the study are expected to be released later this year.