Aviation industry sustainable fuels group adds five new airline members and announces halophytes research
Halophytes thrive in a saltwater habitat
Tue 14 July 2009 – The airline-led Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group has announced five new members – Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, TUIfly and Virgin Blue. Current members include Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA, Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic. Boeing, which plays a leading role in the group, and refining technology developer Honeywell’s UOP are associate members. The group lays down a strict sustainability criteria for the development of plant sources for jet biofuels. The group said it will launch a sustainability assessment of halophytes as a possible biofuel source later in the year.
Founded in September 2008, the group says it has established a foundation of airlines, environmental organizations, research projects and practices and principles that can help accelerate the commercialization and availability of sustainable biofuels. It has pledged to work through the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), a global multi-stakeholder initiative consisting of leading environmental organizations, financiers, biofuel developers, biofuel-interested petroleum companies, the transportation sector, developing-world poverty alleviation associations, research entities and governments.
Working through the group’s representatives, aviation industry input is to be included in a ‘Version One’ set of RSB principles and international standards for sustainable biofuel production. The group said these efforts are focused on making renewable fuel sources available that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation’s dependence on fossil fuels and potentially reduce aviation sector exposure to fuel price volatility.
In addition to previously announced research projects on algae and jatropha curcus, the group will also launch a sustainability assessment of halophytes, a class of plants that thrive in saltwater habitat, later this year. It will include an evaluation of life-cycle CO2 emissions and socio-economic impacts. The group said all of the sustainability assessments will be subject to scientific peer review and used by the RSB process to guide improvements to ‘Version One’.
To be eligible for membership of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, airlines must subscribe to sustainability criteria that stipulate the following:
·jet fuel plant sources should be developed in a manner that is non-competitive with food and where biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies;
·total life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources;
·in developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations; and
·high conservation value areas and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.
“Aviation is stepping up and addressing its environmental and fuel challenges and the work being done by these industry leaders is at the forefront of that effort,” said Billy Glover, Managing Director, Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Tremendous technical progress has been demonstrated over the past several years, and as we move closer to approval to use these advanced generation fuels, we are rapidly developing sustainability practices and conducting ongoing research to ensure we remain on the right path.”