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Boeing conducts world’s first flight with 15% blend of NExBTL renewable diesel as aviation biofuel

Boeing has completed the world’s first flight using “green diesel,” a renewable, drop-in hydrocarbon biofuel that is widely available and used in ground transportation. The company powered its ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test airplane with a blend of 15% NExBTL renewable diesel from Neste Oil and 85% petroleum jet fuel in the left engine. (Neste Oil can also produce a NExBTL synthetic paraffinic kerosene as a discrete, and already approved, commercial aviation fuel.)

Boeing previously found that renewable diesel is chemically similar to HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) aviation biofuel approved in 2011. With a renewable diesel production capacity of 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) in the US, Europe and Asia, the on-road fuel could rapidly supply as much as 1% of global jet fuel demand. With a wholesale cost of about $3 per gallon, inclusive of US government incentives, green diesel approaches price parity with petroleum jet fuel.

Sustainable renewable diesel can be made via the hydrotreating of vegetable oils, waste cooking oil and waste animal fats.

Green diesel offers a tremendous opportunity to make sustainable aviation biofuel more available and more affordable for our customers. We will provide data from several ecoDemonstrator flights to support efforts to approve this fuel for commercial aviation and help meet our industry’s environmental goals.

—Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Green diesel is among more than 25 new technologies being tested by Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator Program aboard 787 Dreamliner ZA004. The program accelerates the testing, refinement, and use of new technologies and methods that can improve aviation’s environmental performance.

On a lifecycle basis, sustainably produced green diesel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 90% compared to fossil fuel, according to Neste Oil, which supplied green diesel for the ecoDemonstrator 787.

The flight test was coordinated with the US Federal Aviation Administration, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney; EPIC Aviation blended the fuel.

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator Program is a multi-year program that conducted its first test flight in 2012 on an American Airlines 737-800. The program continues in 2014 with flights on a 787 Dreamliner and in 2015 on a Boeing 757.


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