Aviation Giants Look to Sustainable Biofuels

John Davis

Some heavy hitters in the aviation industry are joining ranks to develop and to make more available sustainable biofuels.

This story from Biomass Magazine says the Boeing Co. and UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, are at the heart of this effort:

With support and advice from two environmental groups, the World Wildlife Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group wants to make commercial aviation the first global transportation sector to voluntarily drive sustainability practices into its fuel supply chain.

The sustainable aviation group’s charter is to enable the commercial use of renewable fuel sources that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation’s exposure to oil price volatility and dependence on fossil fuels. The sustainability pledge signed by each of the participants (available on Boeing’s Web site) lists four points as the minimum criteria for sustainable aviation fuels:

1. Jet fuel plant sources should be developed in a manner which is non-competitive with food and where biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies.

2. Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing, and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.

3. In developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families, and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations.

4. High conservation value areas and native ecosystems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.

The companies in the group, which includes Air France, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic Airways, account for about 15 percent of commercial jet fuel use. The pledge commits the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group to work with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels “Version Zero” report, a document outlining the first draft of criteria for sustainable biofuels developed by a diverse group of international stakeholders.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, News