Alternative and renewable aviation fuels such as biofuel blends won’t be replacing traditional jet fuels any time soon, but the aviation industry continues to take them very seriously.
On average, the aviation sector consumes 10 percent of the total energy required in the transportation sector each year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It produces its share of greenhouse gas emissions as a transport sector, which airline executives and regulators have been working on reducing through alternative fuels – especially biofuel drop-ins blended with traditional jet fuels.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a U.N. specialized agency, held a seminar on alternative fuels in aviation earlier this month in Montreal. Panelists discussed the recently passed international agreement, the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. Key issues discussed were support for the use of alternative fuels in aviation, finance and assistance programs, and legal and regulatory frameworks.
Years ago, United Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, and several other airlines and governing bodies, became one of the very first commercial sectors to commit to limiting carbon emissions over the next 20 years. During the ICAO panel, the future of deploying sustainable fuels to meet these targets was explored along with operational practices to reduce jet fuel consumption and emissions. Some of the efficiency practices outlined during the panel included using more fuel-efficient airplanes, optimized flight plans, and turning off jet engines while idling on tarmacs.
Test projects are being done in aviation to develop renewable jet biofuels including using hydro-treated oils; and fermentation processes done by biotech firm Amyris with French oil company Total. These and other fuel companies were acknowledged by experts at the ICAO conference for development projects supporting sustainable jet fuels.
Finland-based oil refining company Neste Corp. is known for testing and developing alternative transport fuels, including being considered the world’s leading supplier of renewable diesel. Neste Oil says that because of its fossil fuel-like chemical composition and excellent cold weather performance, Neste Renewable Aviation fuel can be blended well with fossil jet fuel.