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Five More Airlines Join Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group

Five new airlines have been accepted as members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), an airline-led industry working group focused on accelerating the development and commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels: Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, TUIfly and Virgin Blue.

Current airline members include Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Boeing and Honeywell’s UOP, a refining technology developer, are associate members.

SAFUG defines sustainable aviation fuels as ones meeting set sustainability criteria that can be processed to yield a fuel that can be a drop in replacement for, or blended with, existing jet fuel. Sustainable fuels will utilize existing distribution, storage, and fueling systems, and will not require any changes to existing commercial jet engines. Examples of possible sources for sustainable aviation fuel are: algae, camelina, halophytes, jatropha, and non-food cellulose.

Since its launch in the fall of 2008, SAFUG has established a foundation of airlines, environmental organizations, research projects and practices and principles.

In addition to previously announced research projects on algae and jatropha curcas, the group will also launch a sustainability assessment of halophytes, a class of plants that thrive in saltwater habitat, later this year. That effort will assess lifecycle CO2 emissions and socio-economic impacts. Additional details will be announced closer to the project launch date.

User Group members have pledged to work through the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), a global multi-stakeholder initiative, consisting of leading environmental organizations, financiers, biofuel developers, biofuel-interested petroleum companies, the transportation sector, developing-world poverty alleviation associations, research entities, and governments.

Working through User Group representatives, aviation industry input is being included in Version 1 RSB principles and standards, which will be the first widely reviewed and accepted set of international standards for sustainable biofuel production. These standards will be tested, improved and tailored via future User Group and RSB stakeholder efforts and verified through peer-reviewed research and development collaboration.

For example, the sustainability assessments of algae, jatropha and halophyte fuels will be subject to scientific peer review and used by the RSB process to guide improvements to Version 1.

Tremendous technical progress has been demonstrated over the past several years, and as we move closer to approval to use these advanced generation fuels, we are rapidly developing sustainability practices and conducting ongoing research to ensure we remain on the right path.

—Billy Glover, managing director, Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes

In June, Boeing and a team from across the aviation industry released high-level elements of a study showing that Bio-Derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (Bio-SPK) test fuels performed as well as or better than typical petroleum-based Jet A. The testing included several commercial airplane engine types using blends of up to 50% petroleum-based Jet A/Jet A-1 fuel and 50% sustainable biofuels. (Earlier post.)

To be eligible for membership, SAFUG members must subscribe to sustainability criteria that stipulate the following:

  • Jet fuel plant sources should be developed in a manner that is non-competitive with food and where biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies.

  • Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.

  • In developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations.

  • High conservation value areas and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.

Comments

Will S

Sustainable aviation is an oxymoron.

If the economy doesn't recover soon, airlines are in the tank. If it does recover soon, soaring oil prices will bankrupt the airlines. Only so much jatropha, algae, etc can be grown in one year, and plant sources won't be enough to support 1/10th of the current (or 'normal') fuel needs, especially if they are to avoid competition with land for food cultivation.

Henry Gibson

There is a big difference between the word sustainable and renewable, but there is no difference between cellulostic ethanol and corn ethanol both can be used for food. Cellulose or starch can be fed to cattle to produce food and starch can be fed to people. Cellulose is often converted to sugars before it is converted to ethanol, and some of these sugars can be used for food.

Natural gas was once converted into the cattle food Pruteen that humans could probably have been nourished with directly as well. The use of it in the UK would have eliminated the danger of mad cow disease. Animal food was made in Norway also from natural gas.

Certain edible fungi can use wood for food, but wood has been converted more directly to beer. Edible fungi are fed starch to produce Quorn, but I would bet that a bit of ethanol could substitute for some of the starch. The Pruteen organisms were actually fed, the to humans poisonous, methanol because it could be controlled in air better, but they liked methane. They were found on an athletic field, and I hope they were kept around. Some people of Haiti would be glad to have a little Pruteen fed on, coal produced, methanol to mix with their mud cakes. Any kind of diluted pure ethanol, even from petroleum, would supply much required energy.

This group should suport the building of nuclear power plants which are sustainable for the life of the planet with all the uranium available in the ocean and the thorium in vast deposits. It will be easier and sooner done to get useful fission energy out of Lead than to get fusion reactors working, but there is enough uranium in the existing spent fuel rods for a hundred years of nuclear power.

The coal and gas saved from burning for electricity can be used to make synthetic jet fuel. Later, hydrogen produced at nuclear reactors can be combined with CO2 to make jet fuel. CO2 can be collected from the air and the fuel would still be less costly than oil at $150.

Stopping the flying of planes would also reduce the need for fuel, but whilst many are screaming for shutting down power plants, few say: use ships and railroads instead of planes. People who buy cars are not required to buy TATA NANOS for fuel efficiency.

Humans are the cause of massive CO2 release not cars, power plants, ships, houses, factories or airplanes. Humans forget or do not even know that they like most live plants and animals give off CO2. Any of the very strict anti CO2 personalities should not even carry an extra pound of body weight. And bulemia it not permitted to them either. ..HG..

Mannstein

According to Henry Gibson we should all stop breathing and farting. next he'll be suggesting we run a planet wide lottery to determine who to bump off each month.

JB

Those who don’t think it can be done should get out of the way of those with the imagination to get the job done.

Scott

Well said JB. As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions. I too prefer the crative and innovative route rather than a somewhat hysterical viewpoint. The latter all too much comes from radical green activists who'd rather see sustainability through regression rather than technical progress.

Account Deleted

Got to admit that Henry does seem to have one short oar!

The airlines and companies on board have nothing to lose and everything to gain - great PR.

It's not just the greens running around in circles but rather both fringes. I am amazed at some of the articles blogs around. One benefit of the net I guess - we get to read the rants of more of the fruitcake bunch.

Will S

"Those who don’t think it can be done should get out of the way of those with the imagination to get the job done."

Who's in the way? You think you can make air travel viable, knock yourself out. The outcome is clear to those who have any inkling of oil production in the future;

Morgan Stanley Raises 2010 Oil Forecast to $85 - Bloomberg

"(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded in New York will average $85 a barrel in 2010, Morgan Stanley said, 31 percent higher than its previous estimate of $65 a barrel, as demand recovers and supplies decline.

Commodities will rise as investors’ appetite for risk revives along with the global economy, Morgan Stanley analysts, led by Hussein Allidina, said in a report yesterday. At the same time, oil production will drop as much as 6.3 percent a year among suppliers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and by 3.5 percent within the group, the bank said. "

SJC

The airlines, like the car companies may have come to see that they can not depend on the oil companies. If my business depended on the oil companies that want to raise prices and increase profits, I would be working on a Plan B as well.

ai_vin

"necessity is the mother of all inventions"

The airlines could always take a lesson from the past and go back to using airships. With new technology of course- http://www.aerosml.com/Aeroscraft%20Info.asp - We could even cover their tops with PV cells for fuel free flight.

We could use them to transport heavy cargo- http://www.military-heat.com/91/p791-hybrid-airship-project/

Or the gasbags could be made vertical for landing in smaller spaces- http://www.airship.org/

Reel$$

What do you get when you let a diehard marxist read capitalist financial sheets? WillS. Yes Will, all is gloom and doom somewhere now that these guys all admit there will be no warming again until 2020:

Dr. Gavin Schmidt (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Dr. Paul Knappenberger (President of the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum), Dr. Wally Broecker (Columbia University), and Dr. Ray Pierrehumbert (University of Chicago.)

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/07/warminginterrupted-much-ado-about-natural-variability/

But gloom is like matter - hard to destroy. So it gets applied now to the idea of sustainable aviation fuels. Cause even when greens get what they want - it's not what they want - unless it tears down the lifestyles of their perceived enemies.

As for alternative vehicles - the lighter than air and hybrids look promising. I think Virgin Air ought to put one into service cross country with cruise ship amenities. It would sell out every bunk. Thanks for the links ai-vin.

ai_vin

Ha ha ha, now Reel (that diehard Denialist) is trying to use realclimate.org to prove his point. The poor guy can't see the forest for the trees, he read the article but only saw what he wanted to see.

Reel$$

ai_vin:

And I paid you a compliment (about the links). Here's what the esteemed AGW leaders said:

"...the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020."

Whew! With a decade of gloomless (i.e. natural) climate staring greens in the face - some have chosen to attack airlines for getting on the sustainable fuels bandwagon. But that is what the green stomping and gnashing of teeth is all about! Negative ninnies are tedious.

ai_vin

You're still not getting it, when they say "...the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020" they are also saying '...the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will resume after roughly 2020.' 2020 is not too far off, natural variability may have given us a break but these things are cyclic and can push the temperature in the other direction. Even the full weight of natural counter forcings couldn't fully undo AGW, some of the warmest years on record happen during this "cooling period."

sulleny

"Natural variability may have given us a break..."

And of course it's natural. What alarmists don't "get" - is that BS hand wringing and whimpering is dead. That is, for anyone who isn't dead already.

Congratulations to these imaginative airlines for making the effort to reduce our use of fossil fuels. As for revenues: airline Passenger Load Factor in March 2009 is down a whopping 1.78% from a year ago. Sure looks bleak.

ai_vin

I'd say there were alarmists, BS hand wringing and whimpering on both sides. I remember George WH Bush saying if you protected the spotted owl you'd kill all the jobs in America, and Repuglies of all kinds have been says you'd destroy the economy if you went green.

Will S

Reel said;

"What do you get when you let a diehard marxist read capitalist financial sheets? WillS."

I'm anything but a Marxist, much less a diehard one. I'm simply referring to the oil production peaks that have occurred among oil producing nations (e.g., the US peaked in 1970, UK in 2000, etc) and the impending peaks of the remaining oil exporting countries. Overall, this amounts to a global peak in oil production.

For an overview, see http://www.energybulletin.net/primer

Big Al

A question I have is how much land area would be required to produce the bio-fuel necessary to supply the airline fleet that exists today?
I don't see how you will be able to produce this much fuel without impacting the worlds food sources

SJC

At 2000 gallons per acre with algae, there would be enough fuel and land. I would not worry about supplying ALL the fuel, a good fraction of it will go a long way toward reducing imported oil and preserving a finite supply of fossil fuels as a reserve for the future.

ai_vin

@Big Al
It depends on the biofuel. As SJC said 'oil from algae could do it and someone once calulated that if America turned just it's unused farmland over to hemp production it would never have to import another gallon of oil. Corn ethanol OTOH? forgetaboutit

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