Airbus sets up Centre of Excellence in Malaysia to assess local sustainable jet fuel production opportunities
Mon 27 Jan 2014 – Airbus has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with five research and technology institutions to assess local opportunities for sustainable biomass production in Malaysia. The aim, says Airbus, is to determine the most suitable feedstocks to ensure any future jet fuel production is based only on sustainable solutions. According to the latest Global Market Forecast by Airbus, Asia-Pacific will lead in terms of world traffic by 2032. “Today’s MoU is part of our engagement to support traffic growth whilst reducing aviation’s footprint on the environment,” said the aircraft manufacturer’s New Energies Programme Manager, Frédéric Eychenne. The first assessment is due to be completed by December 2014.
“Southeast Asia is a wide and productive region in terms of biomass,” said Eychenne. “The creation of a Centre of Excellence in Malaysia with local partners is an opportunity to ensure that any selected biomass satisfies strict sustainability criteria.”
Participants in the venture include AMIC (Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre), MIGHT (Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology), UPM (Universiti Putra Malaysia), CIRAD (a French research centre working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues) and BioTech Corp (Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation).
“The Centre of Excellence will help us to improve the understanding of the nature of aviation biofuel commercialisation in Malaysia, to identify the opportunities and challenges, and to evaluate the possibility of social, economic, market and technology change and its cost, obstacles and challenges,” said Prof Zakri bin Abdul Hamid, science advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and also Chairman of MIGHT, BioTech Corp and AMIC.
Added Prof Mohd Fauzi Hj Ramlan, UPM Vice Chancellor: “We believe the research will have positive effects on energy conservation and CO2 emissions reduction in the Malaysian and Southeast Asia aviation sector.”
Last month, certifying body the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and Boeing held a workshop in Kuala Lumpur to help small farmers in Southeast Asia grow feedstocks that produce sustainable fuels (see article). Last September, stakeholders from the aviation and biofuel sectors, including Airbus and Boeing, came together at an event hosted by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines to form the South-East Asia Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative (SEASAFI) to address the challenges and opportunities of developing a successful sustainable fuels industry in the region (see article).