Canadian programme formed to undertake camelina-sourced biofuel test flight of a Bombardier turboprop
Members of Bombardier Aerospace's senior leadership team joined by partners in the biofuel initiative announced during the Farnborough Air Show
Fri 23 July 2010 – A six-partner consortium led by crop biotechnology company Targeted Growth Canada (TGC) is to undertake a test programme using biofuel sourced from camelina oil that will culminate in a demonstration flight of a Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 twin-turboprop aircraft planned for early 2012. TGC, Bombardier Aerospace and Porter are joined on the programme by engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada, Sustainable Oils and Honeywell’s UOP. Funding for the project is being provided by the partners as well as by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arms-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Canadian government, and Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN).
TGC will work on crop optimization and growth, Sustainable Oils – a joint venture between Targeted Growth Inc and Green Earth Fuels – will pre-refine the camelina oil and UOP will produce the hydro-treated renewable jet (HRJ) biofuel from the oils provided. Sustainable Oils and UOP were partners in supplying the camelina-based jet biofuel blend for the KLM Boeing 747 test flight in November 2009 (see story). Sustainable Oils has also supplied camelina-derived jet biofuel for testing by the US Navy and US Air Force.
“There’s no doubt that biotechnology will play a key role in developing long-term, sustainable and low-carbon fuel sources,” said Tom Todaro, President of TGC. “But we can’t do it alone. The close collaboration with the other key players in the value chain will help us accelerate the commercial availability and use of next generation biofuels.”
SDTC has so far received $1.05 billion as part of the Canadian government’s commitment to create a healthy environment and high quality of life for all citizens. Of that, $500 million has been allocated to the NextGen Biofuels Fund which supports the establishment of first-of-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels.
The 70- to 80-seat Q400 NextGen aircraft is optimized for short-haul operations and is in service with 30 operators worldwide, including Porter Airlines.
“The Q400 is already one of the greenest regional aircraft in service around the world, and this test programme provides Bombardier and the partners an opportunity to further the industry’s biofuel efforts and ultimately help reach its emissions reduction targets,” said Hélène V. Gagnon, VP Public Affairs, Communications and CSR.
The Q400 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines. “We have implemented new technologies to significantly reduce fuel consumption, environmental emissions and engine noise in our latest generation of engines and we are developing cutting-edge green technologies for the future,” commented PW&C’s VP Engineering, Walter Di Bartolomeo. “We are committed to testing alternative fuels, including second and third generation biofuels, in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of our products.”
GARDN Chairman of the Board Claude Lajeunesse said the introduction of low-carbon alternative fuels was of critical importance to the future growth of Canadian industry. Founded last year, the mission of GARDN is to strengthen the Canadian aerospace industry through the funding of research projects that will reduce the environmental footprint of the next generation of aircraft, engines and systems.
“GARDN has identified projects in biofuels as an important research theme that requires investment from both industry and government,” said Lajeunesse.
The biofuel programme is one of four R&D projects that GARDN has just announced which are to receive funding. The projects, which required at least two Canadian collaborators and 50% of industrial sources of funding, were selected from among 13 proposals and the total funding amounts to C$2.3 million ($2.2m).
The first project, related to source emissions reduction, is led by the University of Alberta in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney Canada, MDS Aero, University of British Columbia and the NRC. The second project, related to source noise reduction, is led by Aercoustics Engineering in collaboration with University of Toronto and Bombardier Aerospace. The third project, related to lifecycle management, is led by Bombardier Aerospace in collaboration of Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, Pratt & Whitney Canada, the CIRAIG and Quantis Canada.
Update Fri 23 July:
A spokesperson for Bombardier told GreenAir Online that, ideally, it was hoped to use 100% biofuel on both engines but the programme was still in the analysis phase and the ratio of biofuel to Jet A1 was still to be determined.