Canadian competition aims to develop sustainable aviation fuels

By Erin Voegele | August 27, 2018

Natural Resources Canada recently announced the Sky’s the Limit Challenge, which aims to stimulate the development of sustainable aviation fuel supply chains. The challenge consists of two competitions and aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lower the environmental footprint of flying.

While the Canadian aviation sector has made significant investments in a fuel-efficient fleet, Natural Resources Canada said other measures, such as sustainable aviation fuel, will be required to achieve industry targets of carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The first competition, the Green Aviation Fuels Innovative Competition, provides $2 million each for four teams who develop the most innovative solutions. The funding will support an 18-month competition to produce the economical and environmentally sustainable aviation fuel. The grand prize winner will be awarded $5 million.

The second competition, the Cross-Canada Flight Competition, will award $1 million to the first participant to fuel a Canadian commercial flight using a minimum 10 percent blend of made-in-Canada biojet fuel.

According to Natural Resources Canada, Air Canada and WestJet will play key roles in the challenge by serving as carriers for the Cross-Canada Flight Competition.

Natural Resources Canada also noted the challenge will leverage the international reach of Canada’s Green Aviation Research and Development Network, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to collaborate on projects that can reduce the environmental footprint of the next generation of aircraft engines and avionics systems in Canada.

In addition, the government of Canada is exploring opportunities to purchase biojet fuel for future use in federal aviation fleets once it is commercially available at a competitive price. The Department of National Defense and Transport Canada have indicated their early support for this venture.

The Green Aviation Fuels Innovation Competition is open to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, indigenous organizations and groups, and Canadian academia. The deadline to submit proposals is February 2019. Four finalists will be announced in May 2019, with the deadline for the final prize submissions set for November 2020. The final prize winner is expected to be announced by March 31, 2021.

The Cross-Canada Flight Competition is open to biojet producers validly incorporated or registered in Canada. The competition is set to begin in March 2019 and will close in January 2021. The winner is expected to be announced in March 2021.

For the purposes of the Sky’s the Limit Challenge, Natural Resources Canada said sustainable aviation fuel can be made of any type of feedstock, excluding coal, natural gas and crude oil. Sustainable aviation fuels resulting from the coprocessing of renewable feedstocks with crude oil, however, is acceptable.

Additional information is available on the Natural Resources Canada website.