GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 31 JANUARY 2019
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UK calls for long-term international aviation emissions goal as it unveils its draft ‘Aviation 2050’ strategy
Thu 31 Jan 2019 – The UK government will press for a long-term goal on international aviation climate emissions to be negotiated and ideally agreed by ICAO’s 41st Assembly in 2022 that is consistent with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. In line with the goal, the government says it will work to strengthen the ICAO CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme through its review mechanism from 2022 and negotiate for the scheme to continue after its proposed end date in 2035. While CORSIA demonstrated international ambition for aviation to play its part in tackling climate change, there must be continued efforts to reduce the sector’s share of global CO2 emissions, it says in its Aviation 2050 strategy green paper. In the wake of Brexit, the government says it is considering a range of options to manage flights currently covered by the EU ETS.
The green paper published last month covers a wide range of proposed policies that address all aspects of the aviation sector and its future long-term development. The 16-week consultation runs until April 11 and the white paper setting out final policies is expected to be published in the summer.
The 200-page document proposes a framework for future sustainable growth of the UK aviation sector, which the government says faces many challenges, including meeting rising passenger demand while addressing environmental impacts and making the most of new technologies. Effective international environmental technology and operational performance standards are essential to ensuring air travel becomes increasingly sustainable, says the introduction to its initial chapter ‘The role of aviation in a changing world’.
“The government supports the growth of aviation, provided this is done in a sustainable way,” it says, and calls on the sector to do its fair share to tackle the problem of climate change, both domestically and internationally.
UK aviation accounts for around 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), but its share of emissions is likely to continue to increase as other sectors decarbonise more quickly. Aviation could represent a 25% share of the total, forecasts the government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Demand for aviation has grown significantly since 2010, with passenger numbers increasing by 35%. The growth in numbers during the period at the six London airports alone is the equivalent of a new airport the size of Gatwick, points out the government. However, aircraft movements have only increased by 13% as a result of better utilisation and larger aircraft.
“Growth can have significant environmental impacts which affect local communities and increase emissions. There are also significant infrastructure constraints which require urgent attention, such as the need to modernise our airspace, improve transport links to airports and consider whether new runways are required,” says the green paper. “Therefore, while the government supports continued growth over the next 30 years, it also believes that the UK must be more ambitious on environmental protection to ensure that growth is sustainable.”
However, it commends the aviation industry’s “positive progress” in addressing its impact on climate change and its success in decoupling growth in emissions from continued air traffic demand, noting that between 2010 and 2016, international air transport movements within the UK grew by 20% but international GHGs increased by only 7%.
The government says is backing the CCC’s recommendation that aviation emissions from UK departing flights should be at or below 2005 levels – around 37.5 Mt – in 2050. It also agrees with CCC advice that international aviation emissions should for now continue to be formally excluded from national legally-binding carbon targets but leave “headroom” for international aviation when setting carbon budgets so that the economy as a whole is on a trajectory to meeting the UK’s 2050 Climate Change Act target. The government says it will review revised advice due this spring from the CCC on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s long-term emissions reductions. “Regular reviews thereafter will broadly align with the setting of carbon budgets,” it adds.
The government wants to continue working closely with industry to maximise opportunities for developing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and says it will work in ICAO towards a global target and market for SAF that are accompanied by robust sustainability criteria covering environmental, social and economic issues.
It also wants to negotiate in ICAO for a strengthened aircraft CO2 standard and a long-term goal that considers aviation’s non-CO2 climate effects, with reviews of the goal as scientific understanding improves. The government proposes to keep non-CO2 emissions under review and reassess the UK’s policy position as more evidence becomes available.
On the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which currently covers UK domestic flights and flights between UK and EEA airports, the government is considering a range of options post-Brexit. These include continuing to participate in the EU ETS after 2020 or a UK approach “which is at least as ambitious as the current system.”
The Aviation Strategy 2050 consultation comes with a number of accompanying documents, including a report by Prof David Lee of Manchester Metropolitan University that was commissioned by the UK Department for Transport. The report, ‘International aviation and the Paris Agreement temperature goals’, looks at ICAO’s long-term emissions projections, existing ICAO policies and measures on aviation CO2 emissions (including the ICAO CO2 emissions standard; the CORSIA scheme; and the impact of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (CNG2020) on international emissions). It also considers how ICAO’s goals fit with temperature scenarios of less than 2 degrees C by 2100; the timescales and the role of negative emissions technologies in aviation development; and whether the CNG2020 goal is consistent with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.
The new generation of supersonic aircraft comes with severe potential environmental impacts, warns ICCT study
Wed 30 Jan 2019 – A planned 2,000-strong international supersonic commercial aircraft fleet in operation by 2035 could have severe environmental and health impacts around the world, finds a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). An estimated 5,000 supersonic flights per day could expose large regions of the globe to sonic booms at a frequency of more than once per hour, with the most heavily impacted regions experiencing between 150 and 200 sonic booms per day. The fleet could also consume five to seven times as much fuel per passenger as subsonic aircraft on the same routes, leading to emissions of 96 million tonnes of CO2 per year, more than the combined 2017 emissions of US carriers American, Southwest and Delta. International regulators meet next week at ICAO to discuss whether to apply existing subsonic standards to the new generation of supersonic aircraft or develop new standards that ICCT fears will be more lenient.
According to ICCT’s modelling, the 5,000 supersonic transport (SST) flights would likely depart and land at around 160 airports located predominantly in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, with the two potentially busiest airports – Dubai International and London Heathrow – seeing in excess of 300 SST operations per day. Other airports expected to see more than 100 SST landings and take-offs (LTOs) per day include Los Angeles, Singapore, San Francisco, New York-JFK, Frankfurt and Bangkok, forecasts ICCT. The aircraft could double the area around airports exposed to substantial noise pollution compared to existing subsonic aircraft of the same size, it warns.
The most heavily sonic boom impacted regions include Canada, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Romania, Turkey and parts of the United States, which may experience between 150 and 200 incidents per day, or up to one boom every five minutes over a 16-hour flight day. Parts of western United States, including Colorado, could be exposed to sonic booms approximately every 10 minutes, estimates ICCT.
The 2,000 SST fleet would emit an additional 1.6 to 2.4 gigatonnes of CO2 over a 25-year service lifetime, which would correspond to one-fifth of the CO2 that all flights could emit this century under a 1.5-degree C climate trajectory. It would also make even more challenging the industry’s goal of halving net CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2050, argues ICCT. Non-CO2 climate forcers – water vapour, nitrogen oxides, black carbon and aviation-induced cloudiness – are expected to be significant with the high cruise altitudes of SSTs.
Given that 87% of projected flights would depart one country and land in another, International standards will be needed. ICCT reports that ICAO is initiating work on SST standards for LTO noise, air pollution, sonic boom and cruise CO2, and a full set of standards may be finalised by 2025 and take effect before 2030.
“Regulators are faced with two choices: either to develop new SST standards that would allow those aircraft to produce more noise, air pollution and climate pollution than new subsonic designs, or to apply existing subsonic standards to SSTs,” suggest the authors of the study.
“Aspiring SST manufacturers could boost public acceptance for their designs by committing to meet existing LTO noise and cruise CO2 standards for subsonic aircraft and by supporting new en-route noise standards that would mandate low-boom technology. Lacking these commitments, manufacturers may find it difficult to access additional capital to finalise their aircraft designs.”
The ICCT analysis is based on an initial unconstrained modelling approach that assumes no overland flight bans or local airport restrictions.
“If those restrictions instead remain in place, some fraction of the actual noise and pollution impacts of the new SST designs will be mitigated for several reasons,” says ICCT. “First, noise-constrained airports may be unable to absorb the indicated flights. Second, overland flight bans would limit the viability of some routes, leading to lower overall share.”
Since 2016, says ICCT, advocates of supersonic flight have pushed to lift existing bans on overland flights in the US despite objections from environmental and health groups, with the Trump administration favouring permissive SST standards that have already led to clashes with Europe.
Commented ICCT’s Dan Rutherford, lead author of the study: “Current supersonic sales targets, paired with ongoing efforts to lift overland flight bans, imply severe environmental consequences. Manufacturers should commit to meeting existing standards for new subsonic jets and promise to adopt low-boom technologies before further developing their aircraft.”
ICCT study: ‘Noise and climate impacts of an unconstrained commercial supersonic network’
Neste rejects NGO claim that its renewable aviation fuel includes palm oil
Wed 30 Jan 2019 – Renewable fuel producer Neste has rejected a report by NGO Biofuelwatch that claims the Finnish company is using palm oil in its aviation product. Neste is the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and the world’s largest company producing renewable fuel from waste and residue raw materials. It is also said to use between one and two per cent of the world’s palm oil production, although since 2013, the company has only used crude palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). However, reacting to the report, Neste says it is not using palm oil as a raw material for its renewable aviation fuel. Meanwhile, it is reported elsewhere the Malaysian aviation industry is supporting government efforts to promote the country’s palm oil industry.
According to the Biofuelwatch report, Neste relies heavily on palm oil – both crude palm oil and an extract called palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) – which the company says is guaranteed to be ‘sustainable’ and ‘deforestation-free’. The claim is disputed by the NGO, which also argues the 100% sustainability RSPO certification applies only to crude palm oil and not to PFAD, which it says Neste classifies as ‘wastes and residues’.
However, says Biofuelwatch, the UK government does not allow PFAD to be classified as a residue for biofuel purposes and Sweden, Finland and Norway also state that PFAD should not be counted towards renewable energy targets as a waste or residue. The report says Neste does not disclose what proportion of PFAD is in its products and says Neste’s description of PFAD as a residue is misleading. PFAD is treated as a food-based biofuel under legislation in several European countries, it adds.
A PFAD page on the Neste website, on the other hand, says annual production of PFAD is around 2.5 million tonnes, or about 4-5% of the total after refining of palm oil. It says PFAD fully meets the EU Renewable Energy Directive criteria for processing residues and is recognised by many countries as a residue and accepted for use as a renewable raw material in biofuels production. In addition to biofuels, Neste says PFAD is used to produce, for example, candles, soaps, other oleochemical products and animal feed.
Neste is the world’s largest producer of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and the report says the company plans to start producing significant quantities of jet fuel from upgraded HVO, to the extent of producing more renewable jet fuel than all other providers combined in 2019. Biofuelwatch claims Neste has decided to locate its aviation biofuel production in Singapore – noting that the location was in the centre of the world’s largest palm oil producing region – rather than in its refineries in Porvoo, Finland or Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Neste currently has a renewable products production capacity of 2.7 tons annually, with 1 million tons produced in Singapore, the same amount in Rotterdam and the rest in Porvoo. It is aiming to increase this capacity to 3 million tons by 2020 through eliminating production bottlenecks.
Last month, Neste announced it was making a significant €1.4 billion ($1.6bn) investment in increasing its overall production capacity in Singapore by up to 1.3 million tons per annum, bringing the total annual renewable product capacity close to 4.5 million tons in 2022, when it expects to start up the new production line.
“The investment will strengthen our competitive advantages which are based on the global optimisation of our production and waste and residue raw material usage,” commented Neste CEO Peter Vanacker at the time. “With our proprietary NEXBTL technology, renewable products can be refined flexibly from a wide variety of lower quality waste and residues while the end-products retain their high quality. We will leverage the experience gained at our existing sites in Singapore, Rotterdam and Porvoo, and thanks to our continuous process and technology development, the new production line will be the best in class worldwide.”
Almuth Ernsting of Biofuelwatch and author of the report said: “Neste’s investment in Singapore confirms our fears that aviation biofuels will rely on palm oil and therefore worsen deforestation and climate change. Far from guaranteeing transparency and sustainability, Neste continues to keep the amount of palm oil in its fuel a secret, it continues to source from regions with rampant rainforest destruction for palm oil, and it cannot even guarantee to keep palm oil from illegal plantations in a national park out of its supply chain.”
Last week, Neste announced it had been placed third on the Corporate Knights 2019 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations list and the number one ranked energy company in the world. It was also the only energy company to achieve a place among 126 companies in the annual CDP Climate Change ‘A List’ for its sustainability performance in 2017. The company noted its products had helped reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 8.3 million tonnes that year.
In its statement responding to the Biofuelwatch report, the company said: “Neste is not using palm oil as a raw material for renewable aviation fuel. As stated consistently in previous communications, Neste utilises a diverse portfolio of raw materials with an ever-expanding focus on waste and residue as sources of feedstock for our renewable products. Waste and residue fats and oils account for nearly 80% of the renewable raw materials we use annually. Our main R&D focus is on finding new, even lower quality wastes and residues. We are currently even exploring ways to start utilising liquefied waste plastic as raw material.
“Our announcement in December 2018 to invest in building additional production capacity at our Singapore refinery does not change our approach to raw materials; we will continue focusing on waste and residue raw materials. The project in Singapore will also include additional capacity to pre-treat waste and residue raw materials.
“We believe sustainable biofuels have a significant role to play in meeting ambitious climate goals, particularly in those segments of the transportation sector that are difficult to decarbonise, such as heavy transport, aviation and marine.
“We will review the Biofuel Watch report in depth.”
Meanwhile, news portal Free Malaysia Today reports that local airline and airport representatives met with Malaysia’s Minister for Primary Industries, Teresa Kok, to offer their support for a government campaign to promote Malaysian palm oil. The representatives from Malaysia Airports (MAHB), Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airways and AirAsia said they would communicate the ‘Love MY Palm Oil’ campaign through digital screens, in-flight magazines, entertainment systems and product displays.
The campaign is a response to growing Western opposition, particularly in Europe, to importing palm oil for use in biofuels from the region over sustainability and deforestation fears. The EU is Malaysia’s third biggest palm oil customer, much of it imported to produce biofuels, but last April the European Parliament voted to ban the use of palm oil in all European biofuels by 2020. A subsequent compromise with EU member states allows for a complete phase out of transport biofuels produced from food or feed crops with high indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk by 2030.
The final agreed text of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) does not single out palm oil or particular crops. The agreement called for the European Commission to report by 1 February 2019 on the status of production expansion of relevant food and feed crops worldwide.
Continued growth of European aviation poses environmental challenges that must be addressed, warns EU regulator
Mon 28 Jan 2019 – Europe’s aviation regulator EASA has warned the continuing rapid growth of European aviation could undermine efforts to mitigate climate change and the Paris objectives if effective action is not taken to reduce the sector’s emissions over the next 10 years. In its 2nd European Aviation Environmental Report (EAER), prepared in conjunction with Eurocontrol and the European Environment Agency (EEA), EASA says overall impacts from aviation have increased by 10% for CO2, 12% for NOx and 14% for noise since 2014. In its most likely traffic forecast, aircraft CO2 emissions are predicted to increase by 21% and NOx emissions by 16% from 2017 to 2040 as the number of flights in Europe grow by 42%. Existing mitigation measures are unlikely to counteract the increasing environmental impacts, says the report. As aircraft movements increase, aviation noise may also affect new populations in the future, it adds.
“We need concrete and effective action to reduce aviation emissions over the next 10 years in order to support the Paris Agreement objectives and mitigate climate change,” commented Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). “The aviation sector must play its part in this global effort. Addressing noise and air quality issues at a local level are also critical.”
As a result of a new EU regulation adopted last July, the agency is tasked to play a greater role on environmental issues and work with stakeholders – including EU institutions and states, industry and NGOs – in developing solutions. In addition to publishing the environmental performance of the aviation sector, the agency’s extended remit now includes maintaining state-of-the-art environmental standards; certifying aircraft and engines against environmental standards; environmental modelling; research on new emerging topics such as sustainable aviation fuels, electric and hybrid engines, drones and supersonic aircraft; and the promotion of improved environmental performance and international cooperation projects on environmental protection.
Said Ky: “Since EASA’s rules and our competencies with regard to environment have been further strengthened by the European Union, EASA now plays a leading role in actively developing and implementing measures to address these challenges in cooperation with our partners.”
The report provides an assessment of the historic and forecasted environmental performance of the European aviation sector, alongside information on various mitigation measures to reduce its environmental impact. It includes key performance indicators that show the evolution of noise, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution over several years.
It also provides an indication of future levels of noise and emissions according to different scenarios, and depending on the progress achieved through technology deployment. Technologies to improve the environmental performance of aviation currently being developed through EU and industry initiatives, such as SESAR and Clean Sky, are looked at and the report also seeks to increase awareness of the effects of aviation on health.
Other key findings show that the number of flights in the 32 EU and EFTA countries increased by 8% between 2014 and 2017. In 2016, domestic and international aviation were together accountable for 3.6% of the total EU28 greenhouse gas emissions and 13.4% of transport emissions.
Technological improvements, fleet renewal and increased operational efficiency have been able to partially counterbalance the impact of recent growth, says the report, but there has still been an increase in overall noise and emissions since 2014. However, as efficiencies continue, by 2040 average fuel burn per passenger kilometre flown is expected to reduce by 12% and noise energy per flight by 24%, but CO2 emissions to increase by at least 21%. The mean aircraft age of the European fleet has crept up from 9.6 in 2005 to 10.8 years in 2017.
The report says climate impacts from non-CO2 emissions, such as NOx and particles, should not be ignored as they represent shorter term warming effects, but adds the level of scientific understanding of the magnitude of the effects is medium to very low.
It says more States and organisations are now taking action to adapt and build resilience to the potential future climate impacts on the aviation sector, for example higher temperatures and rising sea levels.
“The findings of this report are compelling. Without even more action by our industry and policy makers, the sector’s environmental impact is simply going to keep on growing,” commented Eamonn Brennan, Director General of Eurocontrol, Europe’s air traffic management agency. “Despite aviation’s huge commitment over many years to reduce fuel burn, emissions and noise, traffic growth continues to make the environmental impacts of aviation even more challenging.”
He said traffic across Europe grew 3.8% last year but was outpaced by carbon emissions growth of 5.2%, with noise remaining a constant point of contention for communities around airports. The number of airports that handle more than 50,000 annual aircraft movements is estimated to increase from 82 in 2017 to 110 in 2040. Aviation noise may therefore affect new populations in the future, warns the report.
“Despite all this, the public increasingly wants to benefit from the connectivity that aviation uniquely delivers,” said Brennan. “We at Eurocontrol will continue working with our partners to find solutions to these challenges to deliver a sustainable aviation system over the long term.”
Adding his voice to the findings, Hans Bruyninckx, EEA’s Executive Director, said: “The report confirms that the outlook in aviation are not compatible with protecting the environment, climate and people’s health. Europe must lead the way towards a more sustainable aviation sector at home and abroad. Strong policies and robust implementation can mitigate future impacts of a growing sector as well as foster innovation and the fundamental shift needed in consumer behaviour.”
The EEA previously analysed the environmental and climate impacts of aviation in its 2017 TERM report ‘Aviation and shipping – impacts on Europe’s environment’.
In a more optimistic response to the report, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “As Europeans we must continue to pioneer the battle against climate change. This report shows that our joint actions are working: we have reduced fuel burn and noise per flight; investments have delivered more efficient technologies; airports are becoming carbon neutral; and, finally, we are starting to implement the first-ever global scheme to offset CO2 emissions.”
European Aviation Environmental Report 2019 , European Aviation Safety Agency – Environment , Eurocontrol , European Environment Agency
ICAO launches two African airport solar-at-gate projects to reduce aircraft ground emissions
Fri 25 Jan 2019 – ICAO has launched airport solar-at-gate pilot projects in Cameroon and Kenya to help reduce carbon emissions produced by aircraft during ground operations. Last month, a ground-mounted 500 kW solar power generation facility and mobile airport gate electric equipment was opened at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport. The solar facility is expected to generate 820,000 kWh per year and avoid at least 1,300 tonnes of CO2 annually, while the airport gate equipment will service more than 2,500 flights per year. A new ground-mounted 1.2 MW solar installation at Douala International Airport has also just become operational and is expected to eliminate at least 2,575 tonnes of CO2 from over 5,100 flights annually. Funding support for the projects has come from the European Union.
Aircraft at the two airports currently use jet fuel based auxiliary power units (APUs) or diesel-driven ground power units (GPUs) to provide pre-conditioned air and electricity to aircraft during ground operations.
The pilot projects are part of the €6.5 million ($7.4m) ‘Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation’ programme implemented by ICAO and funded by the EU, which targets 14 countries – 12 from Africa and two from the Caribbean region – to address carbon emissions from the aviation sector. The first solar-at-gate pilot project was launched in Jamaica in April last year (see article).
Speaking at the inauguration of the Mombasa facility, ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu commented: “It is not only a transformative development in the aviation sector of Kenya – and of the continent – but it is also an inspiring model of how such change can be accomplished. I hope this solar-at-gate project will serve as an inspiration and that we will see its replication in many other States in support of low emissions air transport.”
The ceremony was attended by more than 150 representatives from ICAO Member States, including officials from the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authorities, airport authorities, ICAO Council members and representatives of international organisations.
“I would like to acknowledge the financial, technical and strategic support of ICAO and the European Union,” said Capt Gilbert Kibe, Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. “Through this initiative, we were able to develop Kenya’s Action Plan to reduce aviation CO2 emissions and identify the use of solar energy at airports as a measure to contribute to global efforts to minimise aviation’s carbon footprint.”
The Cameroon government has funded the purchase of airport gate electric equipment to be connected to the newly installed solar park at Douala International. “The solar facility advances the country’s modernisation of its energy sector by using renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment,” said Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, Minister of Transport. “The government is determined to continue the implementation of tangible actions for a more sustainable aviation [sector].”
Also taking part in the inauguration ceremony in Douala, ICAO Deputy Director Environment Jane Hupe said: “Sustainable development and climate change continue to be critical issues for the international community, and this latest commitment by Cameroon is a great example of the concrete actions that can be implemented as part of a broader air transport environmental strategy.”
Added Steven Rault, Chief of Programmes at the EU Delegation in Cameroon: “The construction of the solar photovoltaic system shows the results achieved by the ICAO-EU partnership on the environment, in which the authorities of Cameroon have been actively participating. By funding such initiatives, the EU wants to contribute to the sustainable development of international aviation.”
In related ICAO news from the region, Uganda has become the 78th State to volunteer to participate from the beginning of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) in 2021. Uganda has received joint training with Kenya under ICAO’s ACT-CORSIA Buddy Partnership initiative that helps developing countries prepare for implementing the scheme. Cameroon and Kenya have already agreed to join the initial pilot phase of CORSIA.
ICAO – Climate Change: State Action Plans and Assistance
AeroMexico passengers sitting more comfortably on ELeather’s sustainable lightweight seat covers
Wed 23 Jan 2019 – AeroMexico has become the latest airline to reupholster passenger seats on its aircraft with ELeather’s recycled, environmentally-friendly material. ELeather takes unused traditional leather trimmings diverted from landfill and reconstitutes it with a high-performance textile core to create engineered leather. The company says passengers enjoy a more comfortable flying experience while the material is five times more durable and 50 per cent lighter than normal leather, so helping reduce the airline’s fuel costs and carbon emissions. AeroMexico has so far reupholstered seating on 64 aircraft and has plans to roll this out across its entire fleet in the coming years.
“We’re focused on providing the best possible experience for all of our passengers. To achieve this, we pay careful attention to every detail to continually improve their comfort and care,” said Antonio Fernandez, SVP Onboard Product at AeroMexico. “We approached ELeather for that very reason – to enhance the customer in-flight experience. Alongside this, our partnership with ELeather is helping us to achieve our sustainability goals. Using ELeather on passenger seats significantly reduces the weight of each aircraft, helping to reduce overall emissions and decrease our carbon footprint.
“In ELeather we’ve found a business partner who’s also focused on providing the highest quality in their product offerings while being environmentally-conscious, as we look towards a more sustainable future.”
ELeather says its nine-step process transforms leather into advanced materials while maintaining a significantly low environmental footprint.
“ELeather takes the highest quality leather fibre and through a patented process, creates a high-performance, lightweight and durable product,” explained the company’s Global Sales and Marketing Director, Nico Den Ouden. “It’s precisely this technology that is helping AeroMexico to integrate more sustainability into its fleet and reduce its environmental footprint. We’re proud to be working with a flag carrier airline – especially one that places sustainability and customer experience as a top priority. AeroMexico does just that, and we’re looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”
The UK-based company exports a range of products – from transport to apparel – to more than 40 countries, with more than 150 airline customers.
Etihad operates first commercial flight to use sustainable aviation fuel produced from saltwater tolerant plants
Tue 22 Jan 2019 – Etihad Airways has operated the world’s first commercial flight to use jet fuel derived from plants grown in saltwater. The fuel was produced by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) established by Masdar Institute, which operates a pilot facility in Abu Dhabi cultivating salt-tolerant halophyte plants that thrive in desert conditions and do not need fresh water or arable land to grow. The initiative is also intended to address food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process. Masdar Institute is part of Khalifa University, and other members of SBRC include Boeing, ADNOC, Safran, GE and Bauer Resources, as well as Etihad. The consortium expects to expand the facility to commercial-scale over the next few years. The flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam was operated by a Boeing 787 powered by GE’s GEnx-1B engines.
The research and demonstration project was first established nine years ago by founding partners Boeing, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP (see article). Operations then began in March 2016 at a 2-hectare site in Masdar City to grow seafood and halophyte plants for sustainable aviation fuels (see article). Since then, the SBRC partners have been collaborating on a comprehensive value chain centred around the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS). They claim it is the world’s first desert ecosystem designed to produce fuel and food in saltwater.
Fish and shrimp raised at the facility provide nutrients for the plants as well as contribute to local food production. After wastewater from the fish fertilises the plants, it is diverted into a cultivated mangrove forest. This further removes nutrients and provides carbon storage before the naturally filtered and treated effluent is discharged back into the sea.
Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, EVP at Khalifa University of Science and Technology said the project was a landmark achievement and as well as creating a sustainable aviation fuel value chain, it was also supporting UAE strategic objectives in the energy and food sectors. He added: “We believe the use of biofuel for this commercial flight will make a compelling statement that impacts stakeholders in the aviation, energy and transportation sectors.
“As a leading research institution in the region focused on providing cutting edge technologies in clean energy, Masdar Institute at Khalifa University remains committed to continuing with its mandate to produce biofuel, clean energy and sustainable technologies for reducing carbon emissions, as well as water and environment-related research.”
Etihad Group CEO Tony Douglas said the project had demonstrated a successful proof of concept that was local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable. He added: “Decarbonisation is important across the aviation industry and together with our partners, Etihad is proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering new research.”
Refining of the seed oil to meet jet fuel standards, blending and delivery of the biofuel to the aircraft for the flight was carried out by ADNOC Refining. Honeywell UOP’s Ecofining technology was used in the refining process, with Abu Dhabi Vegetable Oil Company providing assistance in the pre-treatment phases.
“Etihad’s flight proves SEAS is a game-changer that can substantially benefit air transport and the world. The research and technology being developed shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies,” said Sean Schwinn, VP Strategy and Market Development for Boeing International.
Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, stated the UAE’s leadership was strongly committed to positioning the country as a global hub for innovation and sustainability. “In this context, productive cross-disciplinary public-private partnerships are crucial to fuelling research and development efforts and creating game changing innovations that enable a more sustainable future,” he said.
“Deep decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries has a ripple effect on food security and climate action. Clean, alternative aviation fuels are an innovative and sustainable solution to significantly reducing harmful carbon emissions. The UAE is proud to be a pioneer in this domain.”
Commented Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Harab Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security: “What is particularly exciting about the SEAS is that it is an initiative that supports multiple platforms: aviation, oil and gas, and agriculture. It is an important specialised initiative under the aquaculture umbrella, with the UAE recognising that this sector represents one of the best uses of what is the region’s most precious resources and has consequently established its aquaculture sector with an investment of more than AED 100 million ($27m) to develop hatcheries and fish farms.”
The SBRC expects that over the course of the next few years, the system will scale up to 200 hectares in a move towards full-scale implementation.
Fulcrum announces location of its next US waste-to-fuels plant, as bizav sector looks to showcase sustainable jet fuels
Thu 10 Jan 2019 – Waste-to-fuel company Fulcrum BioEnergy has selected Gary, Indiana, as the location for its Centerpoint BioFuels Plant, which will have the capacity to produce three times the amount of renewable transportation fuels compared to its first Sierra plant in Nevada that is due to start operations in early 2020. Construction of Centerpoint is expected to begin in 2020 and take around 18-24 months to complete. Once operational, it will process in the region of 700,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) from the Greater Chicago area and converted offsite into a prepared feedstock to produce approximately 33 million gallons of renewable jet and diesel fuels. California-based Fulcrum has partnerships and offtake agreements with United Airlines and Cathay Pacific, and jet fuel suppliers Air BP and World Fuel Services. Meanwhile, the US National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is hosting an event at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles on January 17 to highlight plans by the business aviation sector to adopt sustainable jet fuels.
The Centerpoint plant will deploy Fulcrum’s propriety process that claims to reduce GHG emissions by more than 80% when compared to conventional fossil fuels. The company says it will create 900 construction jobs and 160 full-time permanent jobs.
“Launching our business in Indiana is an important next step in expanding our capabilities to new cities rich in innovation and opportunity,” commented Fulcrum CEO Jim Macias. “Our MSW-to-fuels process will help reduce the impacts from climate change and boost the economy by producing low-carbon transportation fuel as well as bringing high-paying jobs and investment to northwest Indiana.”
In addition to long-term offtake agreements, Fulcrum has received sizeable equity investment from United Airlines, Cathay Pacific and BP. Last September, it concluded a similar deal with a Japanese consortium that includes Japan Airlines. The company announced at the time it was accelerating the development of several projects across North America and Europe.
Meanwhile, the NATA event next week, ‘Business Jets Fuel Green: A Step Toward Sustainability’, is intended to showcase the sector’s commitment to emissions reductions through the development and adoption of sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF). It will be attended by a coalition of international industry organisations that launched the SAJF Initiative and Business Aviation Guide at last year’s EBACE show in Geneva (see article). Representatives from local government and airports, as well as fuel suppliers, will also take part. The day-long event will feature a SAJF workshop and in-flight demonstrations with aircraft flying on SAJF.