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Boeing and Chinese Academy of Science to Expand Collaboration on Algae-Based Aviation Biofuels

UOP, PetroChina, Air China and Boeing to Collaborate with Government Agencies on Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Industry in China

Process flow diagram for the production of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) for Green Jet fuel. Source: UOP. Click to enlarge.

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, will collaborate with aviation and refining companies, including PetroChina, Air China and Boeing, to evaluate and demonstrate sustainable aviation biofuels in China.

Honeywell’s UOP will be part of a team led by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) and the US Trade and Development Agency (USDTA) that will work to address the technical, economic and institutional factors required for the development of a new biofuels industry in China. The team, which includes government agencies and associations along with aviation and biofuel companies, will address feedstock harvesting and processing, the establishment of refining capacity for commercial production, and the development of the infrastructure to store, deliver and dispense biofuels.

The collaborations were announced at the joint opening of the Renewable Energy and Advanced Biofuel Fora on 26 May at the Beijing Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. The NEA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China were joined by the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Agriculture and US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman to commemorate the agreements.

Honeywell’s UOP signed a memorandum of understanding to work jointly with PetroChina, Air China and Boeing to evaluate and plan a biofuel demonstration flight in China. The flight would use Honeywell Green Jet Fuel (earlier post) made from sustainable, non-food feedstocks using UOP processing technology.

Developing an aviation biofuel industry is a high priority for China to address growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and the threat of volatile jet fuel costs. This collaboration of governments and industry experts will develop the complete supply chain for affordable, safe and domestically produced aviation biofuels in China.

—Jennifer Holmgren, vice president of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP

UOP Green Jet Process
The Green Jet process originated in a DARPA-funded project to develop process technology to produce military jet fuel (JP-8) from renewable sources, and is an extension of UOP’s Ecofining process, which utilizes conventional refinery hydroprocessing technology.
Natural oils contain oxygen and have a high molecular weight. The process first removes the oxygen, resulting in diesel-range waxy paraffins. A second reaction cracks the diesel paraffins to smaller, highly branched molecules.
While the Ecofining unit can produce up to 15 vol% of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) jet fuel as a co-product with renewable diesel, the new Green Jet process is designed to maximize the yield of SPK to 50-70 vol%.
This is achieved by optimizing the catalytic processes of deoxygenation, isomerization and selective cracking of the hydrocarbons present in natural oils and fats to yield a high quality, ultra-low sulfur jet-range material fuel that meets all properties of ASTM D7566 (Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuels Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons).

A new study by researchers in the UK projects that carbon dioxide and other gases from air traffic will become a significant source of global warming as they double or triple by 2050. (Earlier post.)

Aviation biofuel made by UOP has been used for biofuel demonstration flights on Boeing commercial aircraft with Air New Zealand, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as well as on military demonstration flights with US Air Force and Navy aircraft.

The UOP process produces Green Jet Fuel which requires no changes to the aircraft engine technology when used at a 50% blend with petroleum-based jet fuel and meets or exceeds all specifications for flight. Green Jet Fuel made from second-generation, non-food sources such as camelina and jatropha plants offers up to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over petroleum-based fuels.

In addition to the Green Jet Fuel technology developed by UOP, Honeywell’s Aerospace business is involved with testing Green Jet Fuel on Honeywell engines and auxiliary power units, including 131-9 model APUs, which are used in Air China’s fleet.

Honeywell was also recently selected to supply the auxiliary power unit for Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s (COMAC) C919 new aircraft.


Henry Gibson

Most of the fats and oils listed are food oils or can be purified to food oils that would be far better to eat than to eat no oils at all.

Again the people are ignoring the fact that China has already destroyed a vast amount of its natural environment just to increase the production of food.

Do not forget that there is not enough biofuel growing crop area, including the area for food crops, in China to supply one quarter of the crude oil demand.

As a piece of industrial artwork this project is interesting, but it will induce the already begun and accelerating destruction of trees in all eastern countries, especially where vast amounts of money cannot be made by the people by manipulating the financial markets as is done in the US and Europe.

China needs to standardise the design of Coal to kerosene factories and build thousands of them. The construction of them will permanently boost the economy and save on the expense of foreign energy. A tax of $40
can be put on oil imports to pay for the construction and to continue to allow the factories to be profitable. After a few years the production costs will decrease substantially below $30 after the capital costs are amortised. ..HG..


This is great. Here, they are developing universal, industrial-scale technology to transform biological fats to liquid fuels.
In the short term, they will use existing fat-sources, in the medium term, they will probably use standard algae to produce oils directly or from other biomass, in the longer term, they will use hydrogen + CO2 in dark reactions.
Using nuclear or next-generation solars or wind, they can produce all the hydrogen for any need of liquid fuels. This spin-off technology will then be able to produce all the food we need with a much-higher efficiency than anything we know now.

It's a pity, but technology also evolves, just like biological organisms, trough darwinistic evolution. There needs to be a niche for any intermediate between two developments stages, or there will be no evolution to the next stage. The evolution of technology towards photosynthesis-independent food production will have to go through fuel production. Once the technology is mature, it will be extremely obvious that we need to grow most of our food through non-photosynthesis chemical energy, simply because it is tens to thousands of times more efficient. These kind of innovations will take the necessary evolutionary steps.


The alternative, especially liquid fuel industry will continue to be double-whammied by a continued recession and $70 oil. Henry is probably about right, but its not just China. Everybody needs to tax imported oil up to ~$100/barrel.

And as heard on CNBC the other day...its NOT going to take $12 TRILLION to convert 170,000 fuel stations. A couple per zip code would be enough for a start. It shouldnt be necessary to drive from Chicago to Fermilab for biodiesel at $4.25/gal now.

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