Fri 11 July 2014 – Less than a month after approval for commercial use by fuel certification body ASTM International (see article), Brazilian carrier GOL has announced it is to begin flying with blended farnesane renewable jet fuel developed by the Amyris/Total partnership. The sugarcane-derived Synthetic Iso-Paraffin (SIP) fuel will be produced in Brazil and used in blends of up to 10 per cent on flights between Florida and São Paulo starting later this month. As the Brazilian fuel regulator has yet to transcribe the revised ASTM standard on SIP fuels, which may take a further three months, the Amyris/Total fuel blend can only be used on inbound GOL flights until passed. When produced on a fully sustainable basis, the two companies claim farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent on a lifecycle basis compared to traditional petroleum fuels.
“This low-carbon and sustainable biofuel is part of a major commitment of GOL to address the IATA Carbon Neutral Growth 2020 programme,” said the airline’s Director of Technical Operations, Pedro Scorza. “We are working closely with the Brazilian Biojet Fuel Platform to achieve the 1% blend milestone in early 2016, beginning with more than 200 sustainable flights during the World Cup in Brazil. Using the Amyris/Total renewable jet fuel on our flight route from the United States to Brazil is another way to bring public awareness of the importance of sustainable fuel solutions to the global environment.”
The SIP pathway involves a yeast fermentation process fed by sugarcane – or other plant sugars such as sugar beets, sweet sorghum, halophytes and cellulosic sugars – to produce the unsaturated fermentation product farnesene. This then undergoes another conversion process that results in the hydrogenated and saturated compound farnesane, which is used as the Jet A/A1 fuel component.
In addition to GHG emission reductions, Amyris and its French partner Total point to industry studies that show farnesane also reduces particulate matter emissions by 3%, so reducing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas. They say the renewable jet fuel can be up to 30% more efficient in land use compared to other renewable fuels on a litre per hectare basis and it could become around 70% more efficient when new technologies, like sugar from cellulosic feedstocks, become commercially available.
“We at Amyris are thrilled that GOL will be using our renewable jet fuel blend for their flight route from the United States to Brazil, the first of what we expect to be many routes with the world’s leading airlines,” said John Melo, CEO of the industrial bioscience company. “With our partner Total, Amyris is working to support the performance goals set by the aviation industry by bringing to market a drop-in, low-carbon jet fuel solution.”
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