Airbus is teaming with Honeywell Aerospace, US domestic carrier Jetblue Airways, International Aero Engines (IAE) and Honeywell fuel company UOP to set about developing so-called ‘second generation’ biofuels which would not impact food crops and could provide as much as 30% of world jetfuel demand by 2030.

At a media briefing in Toulouse the airframer made clear that it was interested in pursuing only biofuels that do not compete with land and water-use for food crops; nor with natural carbon sinks such as rainforest; and have the potential to provide a sustainable fuel source.

The envisaged fuels would be produced from vegetation or algae and would also produce lower greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to their higher purity than conventional kerosene.

“Millions of barrels of kerosene are used each day for aircraft fuel, and worldwide demand is growing. In order to replace a significant portion of that jet fuel with bio-jet, we need to find something that has much greater yield than the current biomass sources available. Airbus believes that second-generation bio-jet could provide up to 30 percent of all commercial aviation jet fuel by 2030,” said Sebastien Remy, Airbus head of alternative fuels research programmes.  

UOP says it already has a process to convert “natural oils and greases” to military jet fuel which is also claimed to be viable for the production of commercial fuel.

“Biofuels hold tremendous potential to meet growing fuel demand while reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This partnership brings together a range of aviation and process technology expertise to study and verify the best path toward sustainable use of biofuels in aviation,” says Jennifer Holmgren, director of the renewable energy and chemicals business for UOP in a statement.

The precise roles of the companies were not spelled out today, but Jetblue is a major operator of IAE-powered Airbus narrowbodies, and Honeywell Aerospace produces auxiliary power units for the same range of aircraft.

Honeywell VP Airbus programmes, Greg Albert, says: “We believe this joint effort, along with Honeywell’s advanced technology solutions in air traffic management, have the potential to significantly decrease pollutants.”

Jetblue president and chief operating officer Russ Chew comments: “This has the potential to benefit every world citizen beyond those involved in our business. Each of our companies has the social responsibility to work toward developing a cleaner way to do business, and this effort we are undertaking with Airbus, Honeywell and IAE is a major stepping stone toward further reducing our environmental impact.”

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Source: Flight International