Norway investigates use, production of biobased jet fuel

By Erin Voegele | January 11, 2012

The Norwegian airport operator Avinor has appointed Ramboll Energy and Ramboll in Norway’s Climate Department to investigate the possibility of using biofuel to power the country’s civil aviation needs. According to information released by Ramboll, its investigation into the feasibility of using sustainable and affordable biobased jet fuel will benefit both the aviation industry as well as the people of Norway.

Despite the fact that the volume of air traffic is expected to grow in Norway, Avinor is working to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the use of sustainable biofuels, more efficient engines and newer airplanes. According to Ramboll, biofuel production technologies needed to be thoroughly analyzed, taking a full view of the entire production chain from feedstock cultivation through the establishment of conversion facilities. As such, the investigation will focus on the use of nonfood feedstocks. Ramboll also said in a statement that the initial priority will be to develop drop-in biofuels that meet strict jet fuel quality standards.

"We are excited that this initiative will contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions, both for the airline companies as well as for Norway as a nation,” said Magnus Killingland, Ramboll Energy project manager. “The fact that it is an innovative project involving new technologies only makes it even more interesting. The project is an example of how our understanding of technology can help solve today’s environmental challenges if it is applied in the right way, which is exactly why Ramboll was selected."

According to Magnus, the investigation will demand multidisciplinary input from a variety of departments. He said Ramboll will oversee meetings and seminars with companies interested in participating in the development of new biofuel production technologies. The Ramboll team will also meet with public agencies, European airlines, environmental groups and research and development institutions from both within Norway and other parts of the world. “These consultations will identify the challenges and potential solutions relating to the use of biofuels,” Magnus said.

Information released by Ramboll noted that the project scope will include several actions, including work to collect relevant background material from the most prominent research and knowledge institutions in Europe. As part of the project, the analysts will also clarify the possibilities regarding the potential to import biofuel into Norway and the profitable production of biofuel within the country. In addition, relevant reports will be commissioned on special subtopics from either other components of the Rmboll group or from external parties. According to Ramboll, it will also establish a reference group that includes participants representing relevant authorities, research institutions, environmental organizations and companies. Finally, the results of the investigation will be reported to a steering committee that consists of representatives of both Avinor and airline companies.

Avinor, a state owned company, operates 46 airports in Norway, with 12 of those facilities operated in cooperation with the nation’s armed forces. This includes air traffic control towers, control centers and technical infrastructure. According to information published to Avinor’s website, it classifies six of those 46 facilities as major airports.

Avinor announced its intention to investigate the possibility of utilizing biofuel in Norway aviation operations in October. At that time, Jon Sjølander, Avinor’s director of strategy, said that while it is currently possible to fuel jet engines with a 50/50 mix of biofuels on a technical basis, there are still many challenges related to the production and distribution of biobased jet fuel. The final report is scheduled for presentation to the steering committee in about a year.