Boeing and COMAC open new demo facility to produce sustainable jet fuel from Chinese used cooking oil
The new demonstration facility in Hangzhou (photo: Boeing)
Thu 23 Oct 2014 – Two years after announcing their collaboration to investigate the potential of converting used cooking oil (UCO) into aviation biofuel, Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) have opened a demonstration facility in Hangzhou, Zheijang province. The facility, which is being sponsored by the two aircraft manufacturers and known as the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project, is expected to produce up to 170 gallons (650 litres) of sustainable jet fuel per day. A technology developed by Hangzhou Energy Engineering Technology will be used to clean contaminants from waste oils before conversion into jet fuel that the partners say will meet international specifications.
Around 29 million tons of UCO, called gutter oil in China, is produced annually in the country, while its aviation system uses 20 million tons of jet fuel.
The project’s goal is to assess the technical feasibility and cost of generating higher volumes of biofuel from the process. Boeing and COMAC estimate that 500 million gallons (1.8 billion litres) of biofuel could be produced annually from Chinese UCO.
In August 2012, the companies opened the Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center at COMAC’s Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute (see story). The Center works with universities and research institutions in China to expand knowledge in improving aviation efficiency, including in areas such as air traffic management as well as aviation biofuel.
“We are very happy to see the progress that has been made in the collaboration between Boeing and COMAC, especially the achievement in aviation biofuel technology,” said the Institute’s Vice President, Dr Guangqiu Wang. “We will continue to work with Boeing in energy conservation and emissions reduction areas to promote the sustainable development of the aviation industry.”
Ian Thomas, President of Boeing China, commented that making progress on environmental challenges could not be solved by one company or country alone. “By working together for mutual benefit, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and build a sustainable future,” he said.
The latest Boeing forecasts estimate China will require more than 6,000 new airplanes by 2033 to meet passenger demand for domestic and international travel. Last week, IATA predicted that by 2034 China will be the world’s fastest-growing market in terms of additional passengers per year, with 856 million new passengers annually, and will overtake the United States as the biggest single market.
COMAC, which is developing a new short to medium range single-aisle aircraft, the C919, to rival the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 offerings, as well as the smaller ARJ21 regional aircraft, is also collaborating with Airbus on new air traffic management concepts to promote efficiency improvements and environmental protection (see article).
In turn, Airbus announced in 2012 a partnership with Tsinghua University to investigate the potential for speeding up the commercialisation in China of sustainable aviation fuels from local feedstocks including UCO (see article).