In November at the Dubai Airshow, Qatar Airways, Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Fuel Company (WOQOD), Airbus, Rolls-Royce plc, Shell International Petroleum Company Limited and the Qatar Science and Technology Park signed an agreement to research the potential benefits of Gas-to-Liquids synthetic jet fuel in aviation engines.
The properties of GTL Kerosene are largely similar to conventional jet fuel making it, in theory, a drop-in replacement for today’s kerosene, capable of being used in today’s aero engines, aircraft and airports without any modifications.
The focus of the research will be on evaluating potential improvements in local air quality, fuel economy and overall reduction in CO2 and other emissions. Specific studies will also look at operational benefits for airlines, such as enhanced payload-range, reduced fuel-burn and increased engine durability.
GTL synthetic jet fuels are currently being developed to meet international standards required for use in aviation under the auspices of the industry-wide Commercial Alternative Aviation Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) of which Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Shell are all members.
The synthetic fuels will initially be mixed with standard kerosene to enable the group to model aircraft and engine performance, with a view to exploring the potential of fully synthetic fuels. However, Qatar Airways is looking ahead to running entirely on GTL.
Reducing the airline’s carbon footprint by running our aircraft solely on GTL fuel will set a new standard in international aviation, making Qatar Airways the greenest airline in the world. We are extremely proud to be at the forefront of this movement.—Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways
Shell, Rolls Royce and Airbus parent EADS are strategic partners of the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). Some of the activity will be carried out at the QSTP facility in Doha.
Shell and Qatar Petroleum are currently building the world-scale integrated Pearl GTL complex, due to start up around the end of the decade, that will help make Qatar the “GTL capital”, according to the partners. GTL kerosene is an important part of Pearl GTL’s product slate, and being offered to markets as a natural gas derived synthetic component in jet fuel.
Pearl GTL is an integrated project that will produce 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of condensate, liquefied petroleum gas and ethane, and 140,000 barrels per day of GTL fuels and products. This will include 12,000 barrels per day—equivalent to around 500,000 metric tonnes per annum—of GTL Kerosene.
The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) is an aviation industry consortium formed to coordinate the development and commercialization of ‘drop-in’ alternative fuels (i.e. fuels that can directly supplement or replace petroleum derived jet fuels). Under the auspices of the US Federal Aviation Administration, the Certification and Qualification panel of CAAFI has outlined a roadmap for alternative fuels approvals including synthetic fuels derived from the Fisher-Tropsch process.
This roadmap supports the approval of a 50/50 semi-synthetic blend of Jet A /A1 according to the ASTM D 1655 fuel/additive approval protocol by late 2008 and a 100% fuel specification by the end of the decade in time for the start up of the Pearl GTL plant in Qatar.
The US Air Force is testing 50-50 blends of synthetic fuel and JP8, with the intention of certifying all its airframes on the blend mixture.