Boeing, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and SkyNRG, with support from Canada’s aviation industry and other stakeholders, are collaborating to turn leftover branches, sawdust and other forest-industry waste into sustainable aviation biofuel.
Canada, which has extensive sustainably certified forests, has long used mill and forest residues to make wood pellets that are used to generate electricity. A consortium that includes Boeing, Air Canada, WestJet, Bombardier, research institutions and industry partners will assess whether forest waste could also be harnessed to produce sustainable aviation biofuel using thermochemical processing.
Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term. Canada is in a terrific position to leverage its sustainable forests to make environmental progress for its aviation industry and other transport sectors.—Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy & Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
A 2015 Boeing-sponsored study by UBC found that aviation biofuel made from forest waste could meet 10 percent—about 46 million gallons, or 175 million liters—of British Columbia’s annual jet fuel demand. These efforts could also supply biofuel to ground and marine vehicles, saving about 1 million tons of CO2 emissions per year on a life cycle basis across the transportation sector, the study found.
This project, announced during the 2015 Canadian Bioeconomy Conference in Vancouver, was recently awarded funding by the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) of Canada as part of a portfolio of investments in technologies to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions.
The consortium is led by UBC and NORAM Engineering and Constructors, Ltd., of Vancouver. Project partner SkyNRG, based in the Netherlands, is the global market leader for sustainable jet fuel, having supplied biofuel to more than 20 carriers worldwide.
Using sustainably produced biofuel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional petroleum fuel, according to the US Department of Energy.
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, China, Europe, Middle East, South Africa and Southeast Asia.