Collaboration on Sustainable Aviation Fuel
**This is the 13th article in a series focusing on The Boeing Company's environmental performance and progress in 2016. Visit www.boeing.com/environment for more information.**
Boeing is an industry leader in fostering sustainable aviation fuel development around the world. Biofuel represents a significant, untapped opportunity to reduce aviation emissions, meet the industry’s environmental goals and support long-term sustainable growth.
A variety of source materials, or feedstocks, are used to produce sustainable aviation fuels. These feedstocks include waste cooking oil and animal fat, farm and forest residuals, purpose-grown sustainable crops, and waste gases from industrial facilities. Scientific studies have shown that biofuels reduce life cycle emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared with fossil fuel. Biofuels have also been shown to perform as well as or better than petroleum jet fuel while cutting sulfur emissions, soot and particulates.
Boeing works closely with airlines, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, governments and other stakeholders around the world to advance biofuel development. All of these efforts adhere to principles established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, which address sustainability’s three pillars: social, environmental and economic performance.
Since 2009, the international standards body ASTM has approved five production methods, or pathways, for fuels that are “drop-in” substitutes for petroleum fuels and require no modification to airplanes or engines. Since approval of the first fuel production pathway in 2011, airlines have flown more than 5,000 commercial flights worldwide powered by a blend of biofuel and Jet A. In 2016, Los Angeles International Airport and Norway’s Oslo Airport Gardermoen began regularly utilizing biofuel for every departure—an historic first for commercial aviation.
Our collaborations in 2016:
Billion-gallon supply: Worked with fuel producers (including Neste and Renewable Energy Group), the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders to gain approval for HEFA-Plus. Known as renewable diesel or green diesel when used in ground transport, production exceeds one billion gallons (about 4 billion litres) annually. The fuel’s performance was previously tested on the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program’s 787 Dreamliner and 757 flight-test airplanes.
Tobacco for fuel: Partnered with South African Airways and Mango to fly Africa’s first biofuel flights. The flights were powered by a 30 percent blend of biofuel produced from Solaris, a virtually nicotine-free tobacco plant developed by SunChem SA and supplied by SkyNRG, grown sustainably by farmers in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.
Biofuel in Brazil: Powered the ecoDemonstrator flight-test program aboard an Embraer E170 on a biofuel blend made from Brazilian sugar cane. This approved fuel pathway is a proof point for Boeing’s strategy of supporting regional biofuel production around the world. Our support in Brazil includes the Boeing-Embraer Joint Research Center for Aviation Biofuels in São José dos Campos.
Salicornia and seawater: The Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Center (SBRC) launched its pilot facility in Abu Dhabi. The SBRC produces biofuel feedstock from salt-tolerant salicornia seeds and raises shrimp and fish that cleanse and nourish the plants and water. This work helps address the United Arab Emirates’ goals to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland. SBRC was founded by Boeing, Etihad Airways, the Masdar Institute and Honeywell UOP.
Salicornia and sludge: Formed a partnership with Mexico’s government and AeroMexico to support a biofuel program involving 17 institutions that will consider jatropha, salicornia and sewage sludge as potential feedstocks. This program results from Mexico’s biofuel production roadmap called Plan de Vuelo.
Capturing waste for fuel: Partnered with the United Kingdom’s Virgin Atlantic and U.S. fuel producer LanzaTech, which has produced 1,500 gallons (5,678 litres) of biofuel made from steel mill waste industrial gases. Ethanol-based Lanzanol, created through a fermentation process, is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent compared with conventional fuel and could be produced globally.
Biofuel on every flight: Participated with the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines to complete a $250,000 feasibility study identifying short- and long-term solutions to provide a blend of biofuel on every departure from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The study’s initial announcement and public discussion of its results signaled further market interest in sustainable aviation fuels to producers.