[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
BA and Solena Fuels to build GreenSky landfill-waste-to-jet-fuel plant in Thurrock; completion in 2017
April 16, 2014
British Airways and its partner Solena Fuels announced that the UK GreenSky facility to convert landfill waste into jet fuel (earlier post) will be built in Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex. The site has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities. One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs.
The plant will convert approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels using Solena’s Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid (IBGTL) technology. British Airways has committed to purchasing, at market competitive prices, the jet fuel produced by the plant for the next 11 years which equates to about $550 million at today’s prices. It is also providing construction capital and becoming a minority share holder in GreenSky.
Neste Oil and DONG Energy partner on renewable diesel and jet fuels from ag residues via microbial oil
February 28, 2014
Neste Oil, the world’s largest producer of premium-quality renewable fuels, is working with DONG Energy, one of the leading energy groups in Northern Europe, to develop an integrated process to produce renewable diesel and aviation fuel derived from agricultural residues.
DONG Energy’s Inbicon technology will be used in the first part of the process to pre-treat biomass and produce cellulosic sugars that can then be converted into microbial oil with Neste Oil’s technology (earlier post). Microbial oil can be used as a feedstock for Neste’s NExBTL process for premium-quality renewable fuels such as renewable diesel and renewable aviation fuel.
Renault introduces ZE-ready concept with drone Flying Companion; targeting new markets
February 05, 2014
|The KWID CONCEPT comes with a Flying Companion drone stored on the roof. Click to enlarge.|
Renault unveiled the KWID CONCEPT at the Delhi Auto Show—the first Renault concept car unveiled outside Europe. The KWID CONCEPT features a “Flying Companion”—a small drone that can be operated in one of two modes. Automatic mode uses a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS location; manual mode enables the companion to be controlled using a dashboard-integrated tablet.
The Flying Companion is the first of its kind in the automotive world. It takes off from the rotating rear portion of the KWID CONCEPT’s roof. Renault suggests that the Flying Companion could be used for a variety of purposes, including scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead.
Boeing, UAE partners make progress with oilseed halophytes as feedstock for renewable jet fuel; desert plants fed by seawater
January 23, 2014
Boeing and research partners in the United Arab Emirates have made breakthroughs in sustainable aviation biofuel development, finding that desert plants fed by seawater (the oilseed-producing halophyte Salicornia bigelovii) can produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks. (Earlier post.) The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, will test these findings in a project that could support biofuel crop production in arid countries, such as the UAE.
S. bigelovii is a leafless, C3, succulent annual salt marsh plant that produces an oilseed on seawater irrigation in coastal desert environments; the oil from the seeds is suitable for biofuel production. Yields on seawater are similar to conventional oilseeds under ideal conditions. SBRC research also found that the entire shrublike plant (i.e., its lignocellulosic biomass as well as the the oil) can be turned into biofuel effectively.
Boeing proposing direct blending of renewable diesel in jet fuel; seeking approval this year
January 16, 2014
Boeing is working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other stakeholders to gain approval for the direct blending of renewable “green” diesel into aviation fuel, thereby further reducing the aviation industry's carbon emissions.
Renewable diesel made using oils and fats is chemically similar to today’s aviation biofuels, according to Boeing analysis. If approved, the fuel would be blended directly with traditional jet fuel. A blend percentage would be established through the testing and review/approvals process, according to Jessica Kowal in Boeing’s Environmental Communications. The company’s internal goal is to see this approved this year.
Making driving less energy-intensive than flying
January 09, 2014
|Energy intensities of flying (blue) and driving (green), 1970-2010. Data: Sivak, UMTRI-2014-2. Click to enlarge.|
Currently, the energy intensity (BTU per person mile) of driving is 57% greater than that of flying, according to a new analysis by Dr. Michael Sivak, Director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). To make driving less energy intensive than flying, the fuel economy of the entire US fleet of light-duty vehicles would have to improve from the current 21.5 mpg (10.9 l/100 km) to at least 33.8 mpg (7.0 l/100 km) at the current vehicle load, or vehicle load would have to increase from the current 1.38 persons to at least 2.3 persons.
In the report, Sivak considered domestic operations of all certified air carriers were considered and all light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans) over the past 40 years. During that period, the energy intensities of both driving and flying decreased. However, the improvement for driving (17%) was substantially less than for flying (74%).
MSU-Ford team evaluates 12 biofuel compounds for effects on cold flow properties of diesel and jet blends
January 02, 2014
|Cloud point temperatures of a high aromatic diesel (HAD) in mixtures with various biofuel compounds. Lown et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from Michigan State University and Ford Motor Company's Research and Advanced Engineering Group recently tested 12 potential biofuel compounds containing oxygen in different functional groups in mixtures with three diesel fuels and one jet fuel to determine the effects of the functional groups on low-temperature fuel properties.
Groups evaluated included diesters, esters, ketones and ethers; alkanes were used for comparison. Fuels included a standard #2 US diesel (USD); a European standard diesel (ESD); and a high aromatic diesel (HAD), as well as JP-8 donated by the US Air Force.
US Army flies Black Hawk with 50:50 isobutanol-derived alcohol-to-jet fuel blend
December 23, 2013
Bio-isobutanol company Gevo, Inc. announced that the US Army has successfully flown the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on a 50:50 blend of Gevo’s ATJ-8 (Alcohol-to-Jet)—a renewable, drop-in alternative fuel for JP8 derived from isobutanol. (Earlier post.)
This flight marks the first Army Aircraft to fly on the isobutanol ATJ blend. (The US Air Force flew its first test flight using ATJ fuel in 2012. Earlier post.) The Army flight testing is being conducted at Aviation Flight Test Directorate (AFTD) on Redstone Arsenal, AL and is anticipated to be complete by March 2014.
Airbus signs MoU with EGTS for electric taxiing solution for A320 family; projected fuel saving up to 4% per trip
December 18, 2013
As part of on-going research and development into future technology options, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EGTS International (Electric Green Taxiing System), a joint venture company between Safran and Honeywell Aerospace formed in 2011, further to develop and to evaluate an autonomous electric pushback and taxiing solution for the A320 Family. (Earlier post.)
The agreement marks the selection of EGTS International’s Electric Green Taxiing System to be evaluated as a new option on the A320 Family—referred to by Airbus as eTaxi. This option would allow the aircraft to push-back from the gate without a tug, taxi-out to the runway, and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines.
Amyris and Total form joint venture to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel
December 05, 2013
Amyris, Inc. and Total have formed Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V., a 50-50 joint venture that now holds exclusive rights and a license under Amyris’s intellectual property to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris’s renewable farnesene. (Earlier post.) Total is Amyris’ largest investor, holding approximately 18% of its outstanding common stock, and is committed to the development of next-generation renewable fuels from biomass.
Amyris’ synthetic biology platform enables the modification of the genetic pathways of microorganisms, primarily yeast, to turn them into living factories to produce target molecules via fermentation. The primary biological pathway within the microbe Amyris currently uses to produce target molecules is the isoprenoid pathway.
Shell develops lead-free aviation gasoline
December 04, 2013
Shell has developed a lead-free replacement for aviation gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL); the replacement fuel will now begin a strict regulatory approvals process. Shell is the first major oil company to do so. The new lead-free formulation comes after 10 years of R&D, as well as successful initial testing, carried out in the last two months by two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Avgas is one of the last common transportation fuels—and the only fuel in the US—to contain the additive tetraethyl lead (TEL); avgas is used by light aircraft and helicopters. (Leaded gasoline for automobiles was phased out of use in the US by 1995 due to its environmental and health impact.) Avgas includes lead in its formulation to meet fuel specifications, to boost combustion performance, and to prevent knock.
NASA, Boeing finish tests of 757 vertical tail with active flow control technology
November 15, 2013
|The full-sized test tail modified and equipped with sweeping jet actuators. (Image credit: NASA Ames Research Center) Click to enlarge.|
NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center, in partnership with The Boeing Co., have completed wind tunnel testing of a full-scale Boeing 757 vertical tail model equipped with active flow control (AFC) technology. The project is one of eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations that are part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project. (Earlier post.)
Active flow control involves the manipulation of a flow field—through the addition of energy—to improve the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft structure. Active flow control can enable the design of simpler, smaller and more aerodynamically efficient structures that help reduce aircraft weight, drag, and fuel consumption.
GE Aviation signs 10-year supply agreement for biomass FT jet fuel for engine testing; baseline of 500,000 gallons per year
November 07, 2013
|Schematic of the DG Energy facility that will produce the cellulosic synthetic jet fuel. Click to enlarge.|
GE Aviation, which consumes more than 10 million gallons of jet fuel annually at its engine testing centers, has signed an agreement to purchase cellulosic synthetic biofuel from The D’Arcinoff Group (DG), based in Washington, DC, to be used for production and development testing of GE jet engines, starting in 2016.
The 10-year agreement calls for GE’s baseline commitment of 500,000 gallons annually of the low-emissions jet fuel to be used at the company’s main jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio. Options are in place to order up to 10 million gallons annually of the synthetic biofuel, which be be produced via the gasification of biomass to produce syngas, followed by Fischer-Tropsch conversion.
Amyris to enter partnership to supply renewable jet fuel from sugar to GOL Airlines
October 23, 2013
|An overview of the direct sugar to hydrocarbon (DSHC) process for the production of renewable jet fuel. Source: Amyris. Click to enlarge.|
Renewable fuels and chemicals company Amyris, Inc. and GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A., the largest low-cost and low-fare airline in Latin America, signed a memorandum of understanding that could pave the way for GOL commercial flights to use Amyris renewable jet fuel in 2014. The anticipated partnership was announced during the first commercial flight with a renewable jet fuel in Brazil by the airline earlier today.
Under the memorandum of understanding, GOL and Amyris will work together to establish a framework for bringing Amyris renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane (direct sugar to hydrocarbon pathway, DSHC) to GOL’s commercial flights following regulatory approvals and validation by standard-setting bodies, including ASTM International and Brazil’s Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP).
FAA launches new Center of Excellence for alternative jet fuels; $40M in funding over 10 years
September 13, 2013
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternative jet fuels and the environment. Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Core team partners include Boston University; Oregon State University; Purdue University; the University of Dayton; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Washington; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology; Pennsylvania State University; Stanford University; the University of Hawaii; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Tennessee.
ICCT report assesses domestic fuel efficiency performance of US airlines for 2010; Alaska Airlines on top, Allegiant on the bottom
September 10, 2013
|Relative fuel efficiency for the domestic operations of the 15 largest US airlines in 2010 across each carrier’s entire network (higher score means greater efficiency). Zeinali et al. Click to enlarge.|
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, released a report assessing and comparing the fuel efficiency of airlines serving the US domestic market in 2010. The study is the first to quantify that performance gap using publicly available data and accounting for differences in business operations across airlines.
The analysis compares the efficiency of all airlines independent of size, network structure, or type of service using fuel-consumption data reported annually by the airlines to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. It employs a new methodology, developed by a team of researchers (Zou et al.) at FAA’s National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR) at the University of California, Berkeley, to evaluate an airline’s fuel efficiency relative to both the mobility (straight-line passenger miles between origin and destination) and access (airports served and/or flight frequency) it provides.
NRL researchers optimizing two-step process for synthesis of jet-fuel-range hydrocarbons from CO2
September 09, 2013
Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are investigating an optimized two-step process for the synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons in the jet fuel range from CO2 and hydrogen. The process, reported in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, could leverage a recently reported process, also developed by NRL, to recover CO2 from sea water.
CO2 is 140 times more concentrated in seawater than in air on a weight per volume basis (g/mL), the authors note. With scaling and optimization of this CO2 recovery technology already underway, NRL researchers and others are working on new and improved catalysts for the conversion of CO2to useful hydrocarbons.
DOE and Air Force issue RFI on Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid technologies
September 05, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with the US Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI)—DE-FOA-0000981—on research & development aimed at greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cost competitiveness of Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuel technologies.
The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the US Air Force, intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2013 that would solicit for the most promising research and development projects on advanced concepts for and/or unit operations within a CTL fuels plant; the areas of interest may be developed based in part on the responses to the RFI. The DOE and US Air Force anticipate the need for projects of no less than $3 million and that would have duration of not more than 3 years.
New FOX method estimates black carbon emissions from civil aviation ~2.7 times higher than standard estimates
August 26, 2013
Using an alternative approach to determine the amount of black carbon (BC) emissions from civil aviation, researchers from the University of Cambridge, MIT, and Forschungszentrum Jülich have estimated that in 2005, total BC emissions from this sector were 16.9 Gg/year, with a fleet average emissions index (EIBC, the mass of BC emitted per kg of fuel burned) of 0.093 g/kg-fuel. These are a factor of ∼2.7 higher than estimates obtained using standard methods (6.3 Gg/year and 0.035 g/kg-fuel).
The new method, Formation OXidation (FOX), is an empirical method, independent of smoke number (SN), that the team developed to obtain EIBC for all engines in the fleet using only data available in the ICAO engine emissions databank (EDB) representing the physical mechanisms (with significant simplification) by which soot is formed and oxidized. A paper describing the method and the results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
NASA rolls out new strategic vision for aeronautics research
August 15, 2013
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision better to align the work of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to address looming challenges in global air transportation. Bolden shared the strategic vision in a keynote speech at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation 2013 conference in Los Angeles.
The new vision addresses three “mega-drivers” that are expected to alter aviation during the next 20 to 40 years: significant growth in planet-wide demand for air mobility, prompted by Asian market growth and global urbanization; mounting concerns related to climate and energy; and the convergence of technologies ranging from new materials to embedded sensors to ubiquitous networking.
CAAFI R&D team releases critical challenges position paper and white papers for alternative jet fuel industry
August 06, 2013
The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) R&D team released its current position paper on critical R&D challenges facing the alternative jet fuel industry, highlighting near-, mid-, and long-term priorities. The Position Paper is supported by a series of white papers describing the path forward on these key topics.
The position paper is the result a meeting last fall at which more than 80 members of the CAAFI R&D team—comprising a range of stakeholders from the aviation and alternative fuels industries, academia, and government—identified and discussed key immediate and longer-term needs for targeted funding to maximize the efficacy of the incipient alternative jet fuels industry. Critical enablers requiring immediate development are:
Aviat, Aviation Foundation unveil concept CNG-fueled single-engine aircraft
July 31, 2013
|Aviat Husky CNG. Click to enlarge.|
Airplane manufacturer Aviat Aircraft, Inc. and Minneapolis-based Aviation Foundation of America, Inc. unveiled the first dual-fuel, piston-powered aircraft to operate on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and aviation gasoline. The Aviat Husky CNG is on display outside the Innovations Pavilion throughout AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wis. (29 July through 4 August).
The proof-of-concept Aviat Husky CNG, which flew more than 1,000 miles from Aviat’s headquarters in Afton, Wy., to be at AirVenture, can be powered by CNG or 100LL aviation gasoline with the flip of a switch. It is a mostly standard Aviat Husky A1-C that has been fitted with a 3600 psi (248 bar) CNG fuel tank in addition to its standard aviation gasoline tanks. The only modification made to the engine, a Lycoming IO-360-A1 D6, was the installation of new pistons to increase the compression ratio from 8.50:1 to 10:1.
UPS sets 2017 goal of 1 billion alternative fuel miles
July 27, 2013
UPS released its annual Sustainability Report announcing that while the total number of packages shipped in 2012 increased, the company reduced its total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Environmental achievements included ground and air fuel savings, increased investments in alternative fuel vehicles, and retooled routes that shaved 12.1 million miles from ground deliveries.
UPS also set a new alternative fuel goal of one billion cumulative miles (from a baseline of the year 2000) driven by alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles by 2017, said David Abney, UPS Chief Operating Officer—more than double the previous goal of 400 million miles. Through the end of 2012, UPS has logged 295 million cumulative alternative fuel miles.
Study finds climate impact of long distance trip can vary by factor of 10 depending upon mode, efficiency and occupancy
June 27, 2013
A team from Austria and Norway has found that the climate impact from a long-distance trip (500–1,000 km, or 310–621 miles) can easily vary by a factor of 10 per passenger depending on mode choice, vehicle efficiency, and occupancy. Among the findings of the study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, is that a car’s fuel efficiency and occupancy are central to whether the impact from a trip is as high as from air travel or as low as from train travel.
With only one passenger in a car, corresponding to 20−25% occupancy, the climate impact is at the level of an average air trip, whereas a car with three or more passengers, 60% occupancy or more, it is at the low level of average trains or coaches. A notable exception is for the small diesel car; with two passengers ( i.e., 50% occupancy), the specific climate impact is lower than for an average train or bus trip.
EADS demonstrating electric and hybrid aviation propulsion; innovative distributed propulsion series hybrid
June 17, 2013
|E-Thrust is a “series hybrid” electrical distributed propulsion system concept using one gas power unit providing the electrical power for six fans for lower fuel consumption, fewer emissions and less noise. Click to enlarge.|
The EADS Group—comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter—is demonstrating at the Paris Air Show 2013 a number of initiatives in the field of electric and hybrid propulsion, which it calls its “E-aircraft projects”.
The Group has developed and built a battery-electric general aviation training aircraft in cooperation with Aero Composites Saintonge (ACS), called E-Fan. EADS has also engineered together with Diamond Aircraft and Siemens an updated series hybrid electric motor glider, the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2. EADS is also cooperating with Rolls-Royce on a future distributed propulsion system concept (DEAP) for full-size passenger aircraft.
NREL, Navy and Cobalt Technologies to make jet fuel from switchgrass via butanol intermediate; cellulosic alcohol-to-jet
June 07, 2013
|Overview of the Cobalt/Navy pathway for converting butanol to renewable jet fuel (alcohol-to-jet, ATJ). Source: Dr. Michael Wright, NAVAIR. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is partnering with Cobalt Technologies, US Navy, and Show Me Energy Cooperative to demonstrate that jet fuel can be made economically and in large quantities from a renewable biomass feedstock such as switchgrass using an alcohol-to-jet pathway.
The project, which will convert biomass into sugars for fermentation into butanol with subsequent conversion of that intermediate into JP5 jet fuel, is one of four biorefinery projects funded recently by the DOE. (Earlier post.) The process is expected to result in up to a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the current production of jet fuel.
United purchasing 15M gallons of renewable jet fuel from AltAir Fuel; Honeywell’s UOP Green Jet
June 04, 2013
United Airlines executed a definitive purchase agreement with AltAir Fuels (earlier post) for cost-competitive, sustainable, bio-synthetic paraffinic kerosene at commercial scale. With United’s strategic partnership, AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30-million gallon, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles, Calif.
AltAir will produce low-carbon, renewable jet fuel and other renewable products. United has collaborated with AltAir Fuels since 2009 and has agreed to buy 15 million gallons of lower-carbon, renewable jet fuel over a three-year period, with the option to purchase more. The airline is purchasing the advanced biofuel at a price competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, and AltAir expects to begin delivering five million gallons of renewable jet fuel per year to United starting in 2014.
Australian techno-economic analysis of renewable aviation fuels identifies research priorities to lower the high costs
May 22, 2013
A techno-economic analysis of renewable aviation fuels by Australian researchers has found that, based on currently available long-term reputable technological data, biorefineries producing biofuels from microalgae, oil seeds of the Pongamia tree, and sugarcane feedstocks would be competitive with crude oil prices at $1,343, $374, and $301/bbl, respectively.
Sensitivity analyses of the major economic drivers suggest technological and market developments that would bring the corresponding figures down to $385, $255, and $168/bbl, the researchers said in their paper, published in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. The results of the study, which was conducted as part of the Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative, were presented at the Boeing-hosted Aero Environment Summit in Sydney.
US DOE to award nearly $18M to 4 biorefinery projects for mil-spec renewable hydrocarbon fuels
April 22, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award nearly $18 million to four innovative pilot-scale biorefineries in California, Iowa and Washington that will produce and test drop-in renewable biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel.
The pilot-scale biorefinery projects selected today will use a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks, waste-based materials, and algae in innovative conversion processes. The projects will demonstrate technologies to cost-effectively convert biomass into advanced drop-in biofuels and assist these organizations to scale up the processes to commercial levels. Recipients are required to contribute a minimum of 50% matching funds for these projects.