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Boeing, Japanese aviation industry unveil biofuel roadmap to 2020 Olympics

The Initiatives for Next Generation Aviation Fuels (INAF)—a consortium of 46 organizations including Boeing, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Japan Airlines, Nippon Cargo Airlines, Japan’s government, the University of Tokyo and other Japanese aviation industry stakeholders—has developed a five-year roadmap to develop sustainable aviation biofuel for flights during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The roadmap offers a rough sketch of a path leading to the introduction of next-generation aviation fuels, and brings together the entire supply chain from the procurement of raw materials; production of next-generation aviation fuels; their mixture with conventional aviation fuels to produce alternative aviation fuels; and refueling of aircraft after the fuel has been transported to the airport. For business development, the report authors noted, “more substantive discussions are needed” which are based on the plan.

Using sustainably produced biofuel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50-80% compared to conventional petroleum fuel, according to the US Department of Energy. INAF said the Olympics and Paralympics are a perfect opportunity for Japan and its airlines to showcase their environmental commitment.

As the new aviation biofuel roadmap indicates, Japan is ready to accelerate development and use of sustainable aviation fuels by the 2020 Olympics.

—Shinji Suzuki, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, University of Tokyo

The roadmap explored the use of six feedstocks: municipal waste, microalgae, natural oils, waste food oil, non-edible biomass and woody biomass. The broad timeline for implementation is:

  • Formulation of a business plan during FY 2015 ~ 2016;
  • Design and construction of a plant from FY 2016 ~ 2018;
  • Trial operation in 2019; and
  • Commencement of fuel supplies in FY 2020.

Among the report’s conclusions:

  • Industry, government and academia in Japan need to collaborate to promote the introduction of sustainable aviation biofuel to support Japan's energy security and reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Policy incentives promoting the introduction of next-generation aviation fuels are a prerequisite to success in aviation biofuel use.

INAF was established in May 2014 with the aim of establishing a supply chain for next-generation aviation fuels in Japan. Its roadmap process assessed the entire biofuel supply chain, including procurement of raw materials, production of sustainable aviation fuel, blending biofuel with conventional petroleum jet fuel and how biofuel will be incorporated into an airport's fueling infrastructure.

As part of Boeing’s commitment to protect the environment and support long-term sustainable growth for commercial aviation, the company has active biofuel projects on six continents, including in the US, Australia, Brazil, Africa, China, Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia.

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