Sustainable Aviation Biofuel Takes Off

Leading airframe builder Boeing and its Brazilian counterpart Embraer are funding a joint research center to advance a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil.

The alliance between the two companies follows a report published last year called Flightpath to Aviation Biofuels in Brazil that was organised on their behalf by FAPESP, (São Paulo Research Foundation), Brazil’s leading regional research funding council.

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The new research will follow the document’s action plan that identified gaps in a potential biofuel supply chain.

Brazil is already the world’s leading producer of low-cost ethanol for automobiles, made from sugar cane. But any aviation biofuel needs to have properties similar to kerosene and this calls for new technologies collectively known as ‘Ethanol 2.0.’ You can read an analysis of the Flightpath report and about the steps taken by the global aviation industry to meet CO2 reduction quotas by clicking here.

Under a memorandum of understanding, the two companies will perform joint biofuel research, as well as fund and coordinate research with Brazilian universities and other institutions. The research will focus on technologies that address gaps in a supply chain for sustainable aviation biofuel in Brazil, such as feedstock production and processing technologies. The companies’ biofuel research center will be located in São Jose dos Campos Technology Park.

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“Boeing is working aggressively around the world to expand the supply of sustainable aviation biofuel and reduce aviation’s carbon emissions,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With our joint biofuel research center, Boeing and Embraer are making a strong commitment toward a successful, sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil.”

“Embraer is committed in supporting the development of sustainable biofuels for aviation and the joint efforts with Boeing will undoubtedly contribute to the company continuing to be in the forefront of research in this area,” says Mauro Kern, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Technology, Embraer. “Brazil has tradition in the area of alternative fuels and enormous potential yet to be explored in bioenergy research.”

“Boeing and Embraer have a tremendous opportunity to work together to enhance Brazil’s aviation biofuel capabilities, as well as the global industry’s access to aviation biofuel,” said Al Bryant, vice president, Boeing Research & Technology-Brazil.

When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel emits 50 to 80 percent lower carbon emissions through its lifecycle than petroleum jet fuel. Globally, more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel have been conducted since the fuel was approved for use in 2011.

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