Latest developments in bio-based jetfuels

Latest developments in bio-based jetfuels

There is an increasing interest and implementation of bio-based jet fuels in aviation. Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration in the US approved another type of bio-based jet fuel ending up with 5 approved products. The newest is Alcohol to Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene’ (ATJ-SPK). It is created from an alcohol called isobutanol, which can be produced by fermentation of renewable feedstocks. It can decrease GHG emissions with up to 85% compared to fossil fuel. Others approved by FAA are using thermo-chemical or chemo-catalytic processes and include:

synthesized iso-parafins (SIP) that converts sugars into jet fuel;
hydro-processed esters and fatty acids synthetic paraffinic kerosene (HEFA-SPK), which uses fats, oils and greases; Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (FT-SPK) from various feedstocks
Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Kerosene with Aromatics (FT-SKA) from various feedstocks

Virent (Wisconsin, USA) is on the way to have its bio-based jet fuel approved by FAA.  It catalytically produces Hydrodeoxygenated Synthesized Aromatic Kerosene (SAK) consisting of C9 — C11 aromatics that are cleaner-burning compared to fossil-based kerosene fuels.They claim a 50% reduction in particulate matter emission compared to fossil-based fuels.

Meanwhile, Euglena, a Japanese microalgae producer, together with Chevron developed technology to extract oil from the microalgae Euglena. They are in the process of building a demonstration plant (€ 23 million) together with ANA Holdings, the largest Japanese airline, to produce 125 000 L of the kerosine-like oil which is to be blended in regular fossil kerosene.

In Abu Dhabi, a research facility is launched that combines food and biofuel production. The 20 000 m2 pilot plant will investigate how salt water and desert land can be used to produce fish and energy crops. Aquaculture ponds will be used to grown shrimps and fish using salt water. The water, including the nutrient-rich waste of the fish, will then be used to irrigate land on which halophyte plants will be grown. From these halophyte plants aviation fuel can be produced using Honeywell UOP technology. Etihand Airways and Boeing are supporting this initiative. And also in Mexico a research plan has been launched to implement jetfuels.

But the real thing is happening in Europe! Neste (Finland) developed aviation biofuel which is produced in the Porvoo plant based on pyrolysis of oil extracted from the Camelina plant (RSB certified as sustainable) which is grown in Spain. It has been developed as part of the ITAKA project which has its closing meeting 13-14th of September 2016 in Madrid. Beginning of 2016, it was announced that Oslo Airport is now providing this bio-based jet fuel for commercial flights. They have set up a complex value chain with all relevant partners, including Avenor (owner of the airport), Neste (bio-based jet fuel provider), AirBP (airport fuel provider), SkyNrg (broker specialised in procuring and delivering jet fuel) and three airlines. Air BP is committed to supply 1.25 million L to Oslo Airport which is possible through the normal supply systems. KLM, SAS and Lufthansa have signed agreements to purchase the fuel and KLM performed a new series of flights from Oslo to Amsterdam in april 2016. The jet fuel can reduce GHG emissions with up to 47%. It is transported to Oslo airport in a 50% blend with kerosene. It is unclear in which percentage the bio-based jet fuel ends up in the plane, but based on our analysis it would be 15%.

Global Bioenergies is in the process of developing isododecane by trimerization of isobutene. They are now developing and optimizing the conversion of their bio-based isobutene (produced at their pilot facilities through fermentation) into isododecane which is a suitable alternative jet fuel.