Engine manufacturer GE extends its aviation biofuel development activities in Brazil and Australia
Tue 6 Sept 2011 – Embraer and GE have concluded a series of test flights to benchmark the operational characteristics of the Brazilian manufacturer’s Embraer 170 aircraft and its CF34-8E engines when powered by ASTM-approved sustainable HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids) biofuels under a broad range of unique flight conditions. The flights involved powering one of the two engines with the maximum 50 per cent permissible mix of biofuel with Jet-A kerosene. The biofuel for the flights was derived from camelina and the two companies say they are stepping up efforts to support the testing and development of a broader range of sustainable aviation biofuels.
Commenting on the programme, GE Aviation’s Chief Marketing Officer, Laurent Rouaud, said: “Embraer and GE plan to engage in future biofuel testing and ASTM substantiation activities. This could encompass a broad range of pursuits, from testing of additional fuel production pathways and feedstocks, to potentially increasing HEFA blend levels.
“These flights have also demonstrated that the aircraft and engine manufacturers are also interested in limiting net carbon emissions from their ongoing product development activities, and in working with producers to establish early production demand for the benefit of the entire aviation enterprise.”
In 2009, Embraer, GE and US synthetic biofuels and chemicals company Amyris announced a sustainable jet fuel initiative that aims to conduct a demonstration flight in 2012 of a GE-powered Embraer aircraft belonging to Brazilian airline Azul using biofuel derived from sugarcane. Last month, Embraer and Boeing, with financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank, announced they would fund a sustainability analysis of producing jet fuel from Brazilian sugarcane (see story).
Meanwhile, GE has announced it is joining an Australian consortium that includes Virgin Australia to research and develop aviation biofuels sourced from mallee eucalpyt trees. Launched in July (see story), the initiative involves the pyrolytic conversion of biomass derived from mallees, a species of eucalypt tree that can be grown sustainably in many parts of Australia.
A pilot production unit is anticipated to become operational in 2012 that will make biofuels for testing, certification and public trials, to be followed by the construction of a commercial-scale plant in 2014.
Aviation biofuels derived from sugarcane and pyrolytic conversion have not yet been approved for commercial aviation use but are part of pathways currently undergoing ASTM examination.