Camelina derived oil contributes to Spain's first commercial biofuel flight carried out by Iberia
Wed 5 Oct 2011 – For the first time, a blended jet biofuel sourced from the camelina sativa plant has been used on a commercial flight. Flying from Madrid to Barcelona, an Iberia Airbus A320 burned around 2,800kg of a mixture of 75 per cent conventional Jet A-1 fuel and 25 per cent biofuel in both engines. The camelina was grown in the United States and supplied by Sustainable Oils. The camelina oil was sent from Montana to Honeywell UOP’s Houston tolling facility in Texas where it was converted to the company’s Green Jet Fuel. The fuel was then blended with conventional jet fuel by ASA in Mexico and evaluated and certified by Spanish energy giant Repsol. The flight was part of Spain’s pioneering ‘Green Flight’ programme to advance the use of biofuels in aviation. Iberia claims the fuel mix brought a saving of nearly 1,500kg of CO2 emissions, representing an emissions reduction of almost 20 per cent.
“The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face, and biofuels are essential for reducing our reliance on petroleum, increasing our competitiveness and achieving the ambitious emission reduction targets set by the airline industry,” commented Iberia Chairman Antonio Vázquez.
Repsol was responsible for producing and delivering the fuel, which was evaluated under high-performance conditions at its Technology Centre, one of the most advanced fuel R&D facilities of its kind in Europe. The company has developed a strategy to include sustainable refining and the making of clean fuels.
Iberia and Repsol say they will now consider a new initiative to advance research, development and the use of biofuels in commercial aviation.
The link with ASA (Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares), the state-owned agency that operates 18 airports and supplies aviation fuel from 61 outlets in Mexico, is part of a close relationship forged between the Spanish and Mexican governments involving the development of aviation biofuels.
Camelina sourced from the northwest United States, where it is grown as a rotational crop, has been used in previous test flights but Iberia says it can also be cultivated in Spain and unlike other plants used for biofuels, it can enrich the soil in which it is grown. Airbus, which worked closely with Iberia on the flight, is also involved with a value chain project in Romania that is seeking to develop an aviation biofuel industry from locally-grown camelina (see article).
Iberia recently signed an agreement with the Spanish Air Traffic Control and Air Safety Services and Studies agency (SENASA) and Airbus to support the development, production, and sustainable use of biofuels for aviation in Spain. Iberia is contributing its airline and aircraft maintenance experience, and will carry out tests using its engines and aircraft. The company is also participating in a research project with AlgaEnergy aimed at obtaining biofuel from microalgae (see article).