Pioneering Environmental Technologies
Photo: Boeing Photo
Boeing is taking a leadership role in creating a global infrastructure and encouraging the adoption of sustainability standards for aviation biofuels.
In March 2011, Boeing joined with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland to create the Sustainable Biomass Consortium, a research initiative focused on increasing alignment between voluntary standards and regulatory requirements for biomass used to create jet fuel and bio-energy for other sectors. This consortium aims to harmonize sustainability standards for biomass-based fuels.
Biofuels, when produced in sustainable ways, contribute far less to global climate change than traditional fuels because carbon dioxide (CO2) is recycled, being pulled out of the atmosphere by a growing plant-based feedstock. In contrast, petroleum-based fuels introduce new CO2 to the atmosphere for a net increase.
"I didn't notice a difference on instrumentation or handling, but our crew chief did comment that the exhaust fumes of the engine running on bio-kerosene smelled less of sulfur than the engine running on traditional fuel."
— Raymond Laporte, test pilot for Royal Netherlands Air Force's biofuels flight using a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter
As a company, Boeing focuses on sustainable aviation biofuels produced from renewable resources that do not compete with food crops for land or water. Our experts have intensively investigated a number of biofuels candidates, including algae, camelina, jatropha and salt-tolerant plants known as halophytes. These efforts confirmed the feasibility of creating jet fuel from biomass feedstock.
Photo: Boeing Photo
Boeing is bringing together agricultural interests, academic researchers, refiners and aerospace companies around the globe to establish local infrastructure needed to develop a sustainable and economically viable biofuels industry. Through Boeing’s leadership, regional projects have been launched in Europe, the Middle East, India, Australia, China, Mexico, South America and the Northwest United States. Initial reports from these efforts will be issued starting in spring 2011 and continuing into the following year.
In March 2011, Boeing released the results of research conducted by Yale University's School of Environmental Science on jatropha, an inedible oil-producing plant. This study shows that jatropha can deliver strong environmental and socioeconomic benefits in Latin America. Based on interviews with farmers and scientific field analyses, this comprehensive study provides vital real-world guidance for site selection and cultivation.
Working in partnership with Air China and PetroChina, we also helped pioneer the testing and availability of jatropha-based biofuels for China’s aviation market. Trade publication Biofuels Digest honored this industry collaboration in 2011 with a corporate partnership award.
Photo: Boeing Photo
Flight tests show that biofuels perform as well as or better than kerosene-based jet fuel. Since 2008, biofuels flight tests have been conducted by airlines and military operators with a variety of Boeing aircraft. These include flights in the past year involving an AH-64 Apache operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and U.S. Air Force flights involving Boeing C-17s and F-15s.
The U.S. Air Force has approved its entire Boeing C-17 Globemaster III fleet for unrestricted flight operations with a biofuels blend. The Air Force is in the process of amending the military aviation fuels specification to include bio-derived fuels for aviation for use on all major airframes.
ASTM International, a recognized standards body, currently is in the process of approving the use of sustainable biofuels based on hydroprocessed lipid feedstocks for regularly scheduled commercial flights. Final approval is anticipated in either late 2011 or early 2012.
Boeing is a founding member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, which works to reduce commercial aviation's greenhouse gas emissions. We are a founding member of Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest and belong to, and convened the initial meeting that led to the formation of, the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, a broad-based industry coalition including commercial, noncommercial and military aviation. In addition, we sponsor and serve on the board of the Algal Biomass Organization, which focuses on creating commercial markets for algae-based fuels and greenhouse gas abatement, and we are a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, an international initiative bringing together industry, investors, environmental organizations and producers of biofuels feedstock.