Boeing leads biofuel push

Boeing 787.

Boeing has taken a life-cycle approach to improve the environmental performance of its 787 Dreamliner. 

The world’s leading airlines and aviation bodies have joined forces to push for the development and commercialisation of biofuels in aviation.

With advice from the World Wildlife Fund and National Resources Defence Council (NRDC), the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group is backed by industry supporters including Boeing, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, Air France, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The group, which represents about 15 per cent of commercial aviation fuel demand, aims to enable the commercial use of renewable fuel sources to cut emissions and lessen the sector’s exposure to oil price volatility.

All group members have subscribed to a sustainability pledge, which states that any sustainable biofuel must perform as well as, or better than, kerosene-based fuel, with a smaller carbon lifecycle. The members also pledged to consider only renewable fuel sources that minimise biodiversity impacts.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for leading airlines…to help commercial aviation take control of its future fuel supply in terms of origin, sustainability and environmental impacts,” said Billy Glover, managing director of Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“The number one priority going forward is to complete thorough assessments of sustainable plant sources, harvesting and economic impacts, and processing technologies that can help achieve that goal.”

Assistant Professor Rob Bailis of Yale University and the NRDC will conduct two initial research projects, assessing the sustainability of jatropha curcas and algae as fuel solutions.

“This taskforce comes at just the right time to help airlines cut costs and decrease their greenhouse gas emissions,” said NRDC senior attorney Liz Barratt-Brown.

“If done right, sustainable biofuels could lower the airlines’ carbon footprint at a time when all industries need to be moving away from fuels with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, especially high carbon tar sands and liquid coal.” 


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