Virgin Australia and SkyNRG announce feasibility study to develop Australia's first sustainable jet fuel bioport
Wed 1 May 2013 – Sustainable jet fuel supplier SkyNRG and Virgin Australia have joined forces with Brisbane Airport Corporation to investigate the potential of setting up Australia’s first bioport. The three parties have agreed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see them working together towards the ultimate goal of enabling aircraft to be fuelled with sustainable jet biofuel at Brisbane, Australia’s third largest airport. The feasibility study, which is expected to take 12 months to complete, will research locally available feedstocks in Queensland, sustainable and cost-effective methods for transporting them, and the most appropriate technology for converting them into biofuel.
“South-East Queensland is an ideal base for this project because it is one of our largest hubs and hosts many potential sustainably harvested feedstocks for biofuel, including woody weeds, crop residues and bagasse,” said Virgin Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Sean Donohue.
For SkyNRG, which has supplied jet biofuel for commercial flights on every continent, this is the first bioport it is creating outside Europe. “We strongly believe in Australia as potentially one of the best places in the world for developing sustainable jet fuels,” said Dirk Kronemeijer, Managing Director. “We will do whatever it takes to turn this into a success by developing a local supply chain for sustainable jet fuel that is one day scalable and affordable.”
Welcoming the announcement, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said: “This is another vote of confidence in Queensland’s aviation and agricultural industries. Queensland is a state that supports innovation and we congratulate Virgin Australia on undertaking this research to deliver a greener fuel source for commercial aviation.”
Brisbane Airport Corporation’s General Manager Strategic Planning and Development, Roel Hellemons, said the airport aimed to be Australia’s greenest airport.
A year ago, Virgin Australia undertook an eight-week trial at the airport involving the use of a biodiesel blend derived from locally sourced tallow and used cooking oil in a baggage tug and a push-back vehicle (see article). The airline said if the trial proved a success it would roll out biodiesel to its ground service equipment fleet in Brisbane and other mainline airports, which it estimated could reduce carbon emissions by 300 tonnes per year.
The airline announced in 2011 that it was partnering with renewable fuel technology and agriculture interests to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel project in Western Australia. The consortium plans to use pyrolysis technology to process mallees, a species of eucalypt tree, into jet fuel (see article).
Also in 2011, Virgin Australia signed a MoU with Australian biofuel company Licella to assist with the development of technology to convert ligno-cellulosic biomass such as wood waste into sustainable jet fuel (see article).
“Virgin Australia is committed to developing a local sustainable supply of biofuel for use in our aircraft and we have set ourselves the target of 5% renewable fuel use from 2020,” said Sean Donohue.