SOURCE: BBI International

BBI International

August 01, 2011 15:21 ET

Airlines Can Use a 50 Percent Blend of Hydro Processed Biofuel in Planes

A Major Topic at This Year's International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - Aug 1, 2011) - Biobased jet fuel is poised for takeoff in the commercial market as the ASTM International Committee on Petroleum Products and Lubricants has approved the addition of an annex to the biojet fuel specification D7566. Titled "Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons," the annex will set fuel properties for hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids fuel derived from biomass feedstocks such as camelina, jatropha or algae, as well as production control criteria of the fuel for aviation use.

The vote concludes the technical review process, and final issuance of the revised specification was released in early July. Airlines can use a 50 percent blend of Fischer-Tropsch -- or hydroprocessed ester-derived biojet fuel in their planes immediately.

ASTM's decision to amend the jet fuel specification was welcomed by various stakeholders within the aviation fuel supply chain, most notably the Air Transport Association of America Inc., the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines. According to John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist for the ATA, it will take time for significant volumes of biojet fuel to enter the market due to competitive hurdles, petroleum price volatility and scarcity of financing for fuel production facilities and other factors, "but there are reasons to expect up to 1 billion gallons of biofuel to be in annual production by 2020," he says in an email correspondence. Heimlich says that the worldwide airline industry is projected to spend approximately $176 billion on conventional jet fuel this year.

"A plethora of U.S. and non-U.S. airlines have worked tirelessly together and with the military to facilitate the development and deployment of alternative aviation fuels," Heimlich says. "That work has clearly paid off."

While the latest ASTM certification will undoubtedly help end-users such as airlines to use a cleaner-burning fuel in their engines, it will also play an important role in opening the market for prominent biobased jet fuel producers and technology players. Honeywell's UOP, for example, has played an active role in supplying its fuel for testing by various original equipment manufacturers airlines, airports and other participating stakeholders for several years within the aviation fuel supply chain.

According to Jim Rekoske, UOP's vice president for renewable energy and chemicals, UOP intends to continue its commitment of providing biobased jet fuel and of being proactive in addressing the demand by opening discussions with domestic and international parties interested in potentially licensing its technology to build, own and operate biobased jet fuel production facilities in North America, Asia, Europe and India.

"The demand signal is now coming from the backend of [the aviation fuel supply chain] and it's now coming in force with the ASTM approval," Rekoske tells Biodiesel Magazine. "What it's going to take is some time for that demand signal to work its way forward into the front part of the chain so that the raw materials can be readily accessible, the conversion facilities can be built and operational and so on. That's really the lag we're working with."

Learn more about this topic at the 2011 International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show.

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