Airbus partners French aerospace, airline and fuel sectors with a view to creating a national jet biofuel industry
Fri 21 June 2013 – Airbus, Air France, Safran and oil giant Total are to collaborate on an initiative to exploit French technical capability and research into developing a viable national sustainable aviation biofuels industry. The launch of the ‘Joining our Energies – Biofuel Initiative France’ was marked by a demonstration biofuel flight of an Airbus A321 powered by CFM56 engines from Toulouse to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport yesterday. The biofuel element of the Total/Amyris blend was renewable jet fuel sourced in Brazil and produced from innovative sugar-processing technology, one of the fuel pathways awaiting certification for commercial aviation operations. The demo flight also marked the first A321 aircraft to be equipped with Airbus Sharklets wing-tip fuel saving devices.
The French R&D initiative will seek to identify solutions in the three main areas of environment and social, technical and economics. The partners will undertake an assessment into land use, non-competition with food, minimum water use and positive social impact, and will look at locally available resources, supply, distribution and certification. They will also develop a model to help reduce the costs of biofuels compared to fossil fuel equivalents.
“The air transport sector has an ambitious target: drastically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while commercial flights and demand for jet fuel will steadily grow. To that end, biofuels will play an important role along with improved aircraft energy efficiency. This demonstration flight illustrates the capacity of Amyris and Total to integrate, as of today, aeronautical biofuels in a concrete and reliable way,” said Philippe Boisseau, President, Marketing & Services and New Energies of Total. “As one of the world’s biggest suppliers of aviation fuel, Total aims at widely offering this solution to airline customers. We are confident that we will be able to achieve this within the coming years.”
The Amyris-Total renewable fuel was produced using engineered micro-organisms that convert plant sugars into Biofene, Amyris’s brand of renewable farnesene, a long-chain, branched hydrocarbon. In December 2012, Amyris began commercial production of Biofene at its industrial-scale production facility in southeastern Brazil. The company says it uses Brazilian sugarcane due to its availability, competitive cost and the local industry’s ability to meet international sustainability standards.
The Amyris fuel was used on a previous demonstration flight of an Embraer E195 in June 2012. Amyris and Total expect the fuel to be commercially available by as early as 2014, once anticipated approval has been obtained by fuel standards setting body ASTM International.
“Today’s flight is another step closer in achieving ASTM certification, which paves the way for the commercialisation of our renewable jet fuel,” said Amyris CEO, John Melo.
Andrea Debbané, Head of Environmental Affairs at Airbus, commented: “Today’s flight was an important first because we didn’t just fly with biofuels but also with the A321 Sharklets that will reduce fuel consumption by a further four per cent – that’s two aspects that will help reduce CO2. This is a great example of innovation and also sustainable aviation.”