By Roy L Hales
It is made from oils and fats that are chemically similar to today’s aviation biofuel and, with US government incentives, costs about $3 a gallon. That makes it competitive with petroleum jet fuel.
Were it not for the prohibitive cost, many airlines would already have been using renewable fuels.
Boeing has been a leader in this field since 2011, when a 747–8F flew to the Paris Airshow burning a B15 (15% biofuel) mix from camelina.
Together with 27 other airlines in the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, Boeing has been trying to develop a biofuel that is produced sustainably, without adverse impact to greenhouse gas emissions, local food security, soil, water and air.
“Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel,” said Dr. James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division. “We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry’s reliance on fossil fuel.”
Significant green diesel production capacity already exists in the U.S., Europe and Singapore that could supply as much as 1 percent – about 600 million gallons – of global commercial jet fuel demand. Diamond Green Diesel and Dynamic Fuels, have facilities in Louisiana. Neste Oil, based in Finland, has large green diesel refineries in Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Singapore.
Boeing, the F.A.A., engine manufacturers, green diesel producers and others are now compiling a detailed research report that will be submitted to key stakeholders in the fuel approvals process.
“Boeing wants to establish new pathways for sustainable jet fuel, and this green diesel initiative is a groundbreaking step in that long journey,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration. “To support our customers, industry and communities, Boeing will continue to look for opportunities to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.”
The company is working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders to gain approval for aircraft to fly on green diesel. If approved, the fuel could be blended directly with traditional jet fuel.
(Image at top of page: biofuel research in a Boeing laboratory in Seattle.- Photo Courtesy Boeing)