San Diego-based SG Biofuels (SGB) announced today it has teamed with JetBio–an initiative that includes Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank, Bioventures Brasil, Rio Pardo Bioenergia, Air BP and TAM Airlines–to accelerate the production of crude jatropha oil as a source for biojet fuel in Brazil.
EADS flew the first aircraft powered solely by algae-based biofuel today at the ILA Airshow in Berlin as part of the daily flying display. The Austrian-built Diamond Aircraft DA-42 NG’s two Austro Engine AE300 diesels required only minor adjustment to burn the biofuel, which is supplied by German processor VTS from algae oil provided by Biocombustibles del Chibut in Argentina.
How many coconuts does a Boeing 747 need to fly from London to Amsterdam?
Last year amid much fanfare, a Virgin Atlantic 747-400 with one of its four engines fueled by a mix of 80 percent jet-A and 20 percent coconut and babassu oils flew the route in 40 minutes. Had all four engines been flying on biofuels alone, it would have required the oil from several million coconuts.
The FAA’s recent special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB: NE-09-25R1) regarding recommended safe-operating guidelines in the possible presence of the jet-fuel contaminant Fame (fatty acid methyl ester) has caused some confusion among operators. The agency is concerned that jet fuel could be exposed to Fame contamination through the use of multi-product fuel-transport systems and is taking steps to begin educating operators.
Costa Rican regional airline NatureAir has entered talks with the government of the Central American republic for permission to sell biodiesel fuel to other companies. Despite the fact that its fleet of six de Havilland Canada Twin Otter turboprops runs on jet-A, serving 17 destinations in Costa Rica and Panama, NatureAir calls itself the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.
Synthetic fuel seems to be the new Holy Grail of air transport. The prospect of oil reserve depletion, the need to curb CO2 emissions and energy security concerns are all encouraging the industry to find a viable alternative to the current jet-A1 kerosene that can be used in current engines.
General Electric’s research arm and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (Darpa) have joined forces to develop an entirely bio-based jet fuel to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The main challenge is to make the conversion process efficient. The project envisions a conversion efficiency, by energy content, of crop oil to JP-8 surrogate of between 60 and 85 percent.
Green Flight International last month conducted the first flight of a jet using 100-percent biodiesel fuel. The experimental test flight was flown by an L-29, a military aircraft that is rated to fly on a variety of fuels, including heating oil, making it a “preferred platform” for testing biodiesel in jet engines.
As oil prices remain above the $60 per barrel mark, operators, oil companies and government regulators are showing ever more interest in alternative jet fuels. At a March 8 speech at the U.S.