DFCast: Biofuels Take Flight

Joanna Schroeder

In the past few months, biofuels have taken to the skies with a multitude of successful flights conducted by both the military and the commercial airline industry. This news has been even more welcome with the achievements taking place during the aftermath of the Rand report predicting that aviation biofuels would not play a role in the next few decades. But where biofuels really took flight was during the Paris airshow, which kicked off with the transatlantic flight from North America to Paris using a 50/50 biofuel blend derived from camelina.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack attended the Paris Air Show and told the audience that “extraordinary progress has been made in the last 12 months.” He continued by saying, “I think we’re nearing a tipping point” in terms of building momentum toward use of biofuel on commercial flights. I think [biofuel powering airline flights is] not long-term. In the short term you’ll see the benefits.”

To further spur the development of biojet fuels, the European Commission launched the Biofuels Flightpath, a roadmap to achieve the goal of using 2 million tonnes of aviation biofuels per year by 2020. Prior to this announcement, back in the U.S., Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest released a comprehensive report to speed up the commercialization and use of aviation biofuels in the Northwest. In addition, ASTM officially approved renewable jet fuel standards.

The region has been a leader in the U.S. in the movement to more sustainable airport practices as well as in the movement to adopt renewable fuels. Lawrence J. Krauter, CEO of the Spokane International Airport, one of dozens of entities participating in the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest initiative, noted, “The course is clear that aviation biofuels are key to the future of sustainable air travel. We can no longer base our future on imported petroleum, especially if the United States wants to remain an aviation leader. The SAFN study proves domestic biofuels are feasible and offers an economic opportunity for us to remain competitive as an industry and move toward a sustainable, domestic fuel supply.”

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