Boeing, COMAC see great potential for renewable jet fuel in China

By Anna Simet | August 21, 2012

Boeing Inc. and the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China have officially opened the Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center in Beijing, China.

Located in COMAC's new Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute, the center represents a collaborative effort to support commercial aviation industry growth, and among its focuses are the technological and economic barriers to bringing renewable jet fuel to the market.

The facility is funded by both companies, and is working with China-based universities and research institutions to expand knowledge in areas such as sustainable aviation biofuels and air traffic management that improve commercial aviation's efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The first research project will focus on exploring opportunities to refine waste cooking oil into sustainable aviation biofuel by identifying contaminants, as well as processes that may treat and clean it for use as jet fuel. These initiatives are influenced by the fact that China annually consumes approximately 29 million tons of cooking oil while its aviation system uses 20 million tons of jet fuel, so discarded waste cooking oil—commonly referred to as gutter oil in China—could potentially enhance regional biofuel supplies and improve biofuel's affordability.

China is one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets, according to a news release issued by Boeing, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China has forecast that passenger traffic in China will surpass 300 million this year, reaching 1.5 billion passengers in 2030. Boeing estimates that Chinese airlines will need to buy 5,000 new airplanes by 2030 to meet this demand.