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In Europe in June, the European Commission, Airbus,
European airlines and biofuel producers launched a
‘Biofuel Flightpath’ plan, designed to speed up the
commercialisation of aviation biofuels on that continent.
The roadmap commits members to supporting and
promoting the production, storag e and distribution of
sustainably produced drop-in aviation biofuels from
European-sourced feedstock material, with the g oal
of reaching production and consumption of 2 million
tonnes by 2020.
European biofuel activities include a project in
Romania involving Airbus, TAROM, UOP and
Camelina Company Espana to establish a processing
and production capability using camelina, which is
indigenous to Romania. Elsewhere in Europe, Dutch
carrier KLM formed the SkyNRG consortium with the
North Sea Group and Spring Associates to help develop
and promote a sustainable biof uel market.
In the UK , British Airways (BA) is working with
Solena to convert waste biomass into fuel using Solena’s
plasma technology. The partners aim to convert 500,000
tonnes of waste per year into biof uels, with an eventual
target of 1,170 barrels of aviation biofuel a day at a facility
in East London. Full operations are planned for 2014.
BA is also involved in the Sea Green project which
envisages a near-shore, ocean-based facility for the
sustainable production of biomass for aviation biofuels
using micro-algae as biofuel feedstock . The Sustainable
Use of Renewable Fuels (SURF) consortium –
comprising Airbus, BA , Rolls-Royce, Finnair, London
Gatwick Airport, the International Air Transport
Association (IATA) and the UK’s Cranfield University
– wa s formed last year to drive stakeholder engagement.
The first commercial products are expected to b e
available within three years.
Mexico, meanwhile, is a hive of biof uel activity, with
the g overnment leading an ambitious programme to
develop a sustainable aviation biof uels industry in the
country. Mexico is the fourth most-diverse country in the
world, with over 5.8 million hectares of high-productive
potential. According to ATAG, with the right funding
structure in place, up to four aviation biofuel refineries
could be in operation there by 2020, generating 800
million litres of sustainable aviation biofuel.
Middle East involvement
The oil-rich Middle East has also got involved, with
projects including the Qatar Advanced Biofuel
Platform consortium, involving Qatar Airways,
Airbus, Qatar Petroleum, Rolls-Royce and Qatar
University. The consortium aims to establish an algae
biojet-fuel value chain, and the project is now moving
from lab testing to development of a demonstrator
Boeing , meanwhile, is involved in the region’s
Sustainable Bioenerg y Research Centre, which
includes Etihad Airways, UOP and the Masdar
Institute of Science and Technology and is working
on arid land and saltwater-tolerant bioma ss.
The US-based Commercial Aviation Alternative
Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) is one of the best examples of
collaborative efforts under way. CAAFI was founded
in 2006 by the US Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA), Air Transport Association of America, the
Aerospace Industries Association and Airports Council
International North America, with the aim of making
commercially viable, environmentally friendly alternative
fuels a reality. CAAFI started as a US initiative, but now
has more than 300 stakeholder participants worldwide,
Environmental efforts are not just about biofuels.
Airframe and engine manufacturers are working hard
to improve the environmental credentials of their
products. Airbus says, for example, that in 1985 the
average aircraft fle et consumed 8 litres of f uel per
passenger per 100km. Today it is less than 5 litres,
with an anticipated drop to 3 litres within 20 years.
The manufacturer ’s single-aisle A320 provides the
lowest fuel-burn per trip of any narrowbody with
more than 100 seats, while the A380 – the world’s
largest jetliner – has a relative fuel-consumption of
2.9 litres, Airbus says.
The Toulouse-based company is seeking to
minimise the environmental impact of its products,
starting with the design. This includes optimised
propulsion systems, aerodynamic efficiency, the
introduction of advanced materials and new
processes to reduce weight, f uel-consumption and
emissions. The A380, for example, was the first
commercial aircraft to incorporate as much as 25
percent composites in its structure in a move that
has saved up to 1.5 tonnes of weight.
Airbus is also working closely with engine
manufacturers to reduce noise, through low-noise
nacelle designs, acoustic treatments and noise
Airbus is also applying ‘biomimicry’ to its designs – copying
the best ideas from nature.
Airbus is using ‘biomimicry’ to boost the aerodynamic efficiency
of the new A350XWB, reducing fuel consumption
26 AsianAviation | OCTOBER 2011
30/09/11 9:33 PM
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