Boeing identifies readily-available renewable green diesel as potential cost-competitive sustainable jet fuel
Tue 14 Jan 2014 – In what could be a significant breakthrough, Boeing has identified green diesel – a renewable ground transportation fuel – as a new source of sustainable aviation biofuel. Analysis by Boeing researchers has found that green diesel – not to be confused with biodiesel, which is a separate product and chemically different – has similar chemical properties to today’s aviation biofuel. The company says the fuel emits at least 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel over its life-cycle and could be blended directly with traditional jet fuel. Boeing says it is now working with the US FAA and other stakeholders to gain approval for aircraft to fly on green diesel.
“Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel,” commented Dr James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Propulsion Systems Division. “We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry’s reliance on fossil fuel.”
According to Boeing, significant green diesel production capacity already exists in the United States, Europe and Singapore that could supply as much as 1% – around 600 million gallons – of global commercial jet fuel demand. At a wholesale cost of about $3 a gallon with US government incentives, this would make it competitive with petroleum jet fuel, currently trading at around $2.97 a gallon.
Biofuels approved for aviation must meet or exceed stringent jet fuel performance requirements. Green diesel, which can be used in any diesel engine, is made from oils and fats, similar feedstocks to those used in processes that were approved in 2011 by fuel certification body ASTM International for commercial airline use in blends of up to 50%. Other conversion technologies are currently undergoing approval by ASTM. Boeing, the FAA, engine manufacturers, green diesel producers and others are now compiling a detailed research report that will be submitted in the fuel approvals process.
Boeing says it and the 27 airlines in the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group are committed to developing biofuel that is produced sustainably and without adverse impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, local food security, soil, water and air.
“Boeing wants to establish new pathways for sustainable jet fuel, and this green diesel initiative is a groundbreaking step in that long journey,” said Julie Felgar, Managing Director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration. “To support our customers, industry and communities, Boeing will continue to look for opportunities to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.”