Aviation biofuels collaborative efforts in full force

By Bryan Sims | November 16, 2011

The use of biojet fuel is increasing as Mexico-based air carrier Aeromexico has begun to use biojet fuel produced by Honeywell’s UOP LLC, trademarked Green Jet Fuel, on its regular Mexico City to Costa Rica route as part of its “Green Flights” project designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Aeromexico-operated Boeing 737-700, which carries up to 124 passengers, will use a 15 percent blend of Green Jet Fuel derived from camelina and conventional JP-8 fuel blended by the Mexican agency Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares. The agency has developed its “Flight Plan towards Sustainable Aviation Biofuels in Mexico,” a program that focuses on identifying and analyzing the elements of the supply chain of aviation biofuels in Mexico. According to ASA, the Mexican aviation sector expects that biofuels will account for 1 percent of the fuel used in Mexico by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.

“This regular commercial route powered by Honeywell Green Jet Fuel is a huge step in establishing the market for aviation biofuels and widespread use of these fuels,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of renewable energy and chemicals for UOP. “With the addition of this route, Aeromexico and ASA are helping make cleaner air travel from nonfossil sources a reality for everyone.”

The Aeromexico biofuels route comes on the heels of multiple commercial flights around the world powered by Honeywell’s Green Jet Fuel. In August, Aeromexico carried out the first transatlantic commercial flight from Mexico City to Madrid. Additionally, Iberia Airlines, in partnership with Spanish oil company Repsol, used Green Jet Fuel made from camelina for a flight from Madrid to Barcelona in early October. ASA performed the blending of the biofuel with the petroleum aviation fuel for both flights.

To date, UOP has produced more than 700,000 gallons of Green Jet Fuel to power more than 20 test and commercial flights with both military and commercial aviation partners. In July, the aviation industry reached a significant milestone with the approved revision of ASTM D7566, titled, “Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons.” The approved annex, called “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA),” allows up to a 50/50 blend of biobased components derived from biomass such as camelina, jatropha or algae, with conventional jet fuel.

Meanwhile, Boeing and Hawaii BioEnergy have forged a collaborative agreement to jointly investigate various crops, including sorghum and eucalyptus, as potential sources that could be grown and converted into biojet fuel. The collaboration will also assess new supporting technologies for aviation biofuel production.

“As an Asia Pacific gateway and leading tourism destination, Hawaii can play a meaningful role in helping aviation reduce carbon emissions while decreasing regional energy resources,” said Billy Glover, Boeing’s vice president of environmental and aviation policy. “This collaboration effort will allow us to examine potential local options while protecting the beauty and culture these islands have to offer.”

According to its website, Hawaii BioEnergy is a leading renewable energy supplier headquartered in Honolulu that’s actively researching technical, economical and environmentally viable processing techniques and distribution channels for a variety of energy crops, including but not limited to sugarcane, woody biomass and algae. Hawaii BioEnergy is a leading energy supplier to the Hawaiian Electric Co.

“We are looking forward to working with Boeing in addressing Hawaii’s energy needs, particularly for aviation fuel,” said Joel Matsunaga, chief operating officer of Hawaii BioEnergy. “We have the opportunity to shape a more sustainable energy future for our children and generations to come in Hawaii while creating economic growth for the state.”