Boeing, Aeromexico and ASA set up new initiative to advance sustainable aviation biofuels in Mexico
Wed 2 Mar 2016 – An initiative has been launched by Boeing, Aeromexico and airport operator and jet fuel supplier Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA) to advance research and development of sustainable aviation biofuels in Mexico. It will be supported by Mexico’s Sector Fund for Energy Sustainability and will be coordinated through the Mexican Bioenergy Innovation Center. Other participants in the programme include the Potosinian Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IPICYT), which will lead a broader aviation biofuel development effort involving 17 institutions. Research will be conducted on biomass sourcing, fuel production, sustainability and lifecycle assessment, and aviation biofuel market development. In 2011, Aeromexico was the first airline to conduct a transatlantic biofuel commercial flight, using a nationally sourced jatropha blend supplied by ASA.
The Mexican government and participating institutions will fund the latest initiative for four years, with the aim of developing a self-sustaining business model. Nine national research centres are involved in the programme, plus Mexican companies Pemex, QENER and Tratamientos Reciclados del Sureste, and the Mexican Petroleum Institute. Others include the UAE’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the US Joint BioEnergy Institute.
Feedstocks under consideration are expected to include jatropha, salt-tolerant salicornia and sewage sludge and projects will be expected to meet sustainability criteria established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.
In 2009, Boeing collaborated with ASA and also Honeywell’s UOP on a Mexican sustainable aviation biofuels R&D initiative involving government, private sector and academic stakeholders (see article). Initial studies were commissioned on promising biomass sources with a view to furthering the development of a viable market for locally sourced aviation biofuels. Also participating in the venture was Masdar and an initial research target was halophytic plants such as Salicornia. ASA Director of Fuel Services Alejandro Rios later joined Masdar to head up the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System farm and research project in Abu Dhabi that is working to develop for commercial production sustainable aviation biofuels from salicornia.
The Aeromexico flight in August 2011 from Mexico City to Madrid involved a Boeing 777-200ER using a blend of 30% biofuel sourced from around 20 tons of jatropha curcas derived fuel produced using UOP’s process technology (see article). The following year, an Aeromexico flight using a similar aircraft and a blended fuel derived from used cooking oil, jatropha and camelina supplied by ASA, was part of a series of flights taking ICAO officials from Montreal to the Rio+20 UN gathering in Brazil (see article). Later that year, Aeromexico started operating a series of flights between Mexico and Costa Rica using Honeywell’s Green Jet Fuel sourced from camelina grown in the United States (see article).
“In Aeromexico, we recognise that conducting a sustainable operation is an everyday commitment,” said the airline’s Chief of People and Industries Affairs Officer, Sergio Allard. “We are ready to assume the challenge and break the myth that you cannot be socially and environmentally responsible and competitive at the same time.”
Added Marc Allen, President of Boeing International: “Sustainable jet fuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions and will bring a new and innovative industry to Mexico.”