Airbus, Air Canada partner with BioFuelNet Canada on biojet fuel

By Chris Hanson | May 21, 2013

BioFuelNet Canada has entered an agreement with Airbus and Air Canada to evaluate biomass-derived biojet fuels. 

BioFuelNet’s researchers will assess agricultural, forestry and municipal solid waste streams along with conversion processes to determine which method is the most sustainable for the production of aviation biofuels.  Anne Webb, BioFuelNet manager of communication and public relations, explained BioFuelNet’s role will be to manage the research project across its network of 25 Canadian universities and 40 industrial partners. She added each researcher will work with graduate students or an industrial partner to study the advanced biofuel production chain, engine performance and environmental sustainability.

“Aviation biofuels are one of the most promising ways to reduce the aviation industry’s carbon footprint, making air travel more environmentally-friendly. Airbus and Air Canada are key players in the field, dedicated to finding the most sustainable fuel sources for the future of air travel,” said Donald Smith, president of BioFuelNet and McGill University professor. “These relationships are of great importance to BioFuelNet Canada.”

Webb said the biggest challenge with biojet fuel is that it is currently produced by a few companies in small quantities, which results in relatively high costs. The interest in biofuel development demonstrated by companies, such as Air Canada and Airbus, shows biofuel producers the aviation industry is serious about achieving carbon reduction targets and will spur investment in the biofuel industry, she added.

 Air Canada’s director of fuel purchasing, Paul Whitty, said Air Canada already completed two flights using biofuels, each with a substantial reduction of emissions.  He credited new technologies, such as alternative fuels, as one method of reducing emissions to meet Air Canada’s goal for carbon-neutral growth by 2020.

“The commercialization of sustainable alternative fuels is a key to reducing our sectors’ carbon footprint. The support and leadership of BioFuelNet in facilitating research and of airlines, like Air Canada, is an essential element in achieving this,” said Frederick Eychenne, Airbus New Energy’s program manager. “Together we are showing that new lower carbon footprint aviation fuels work on existing aircraft and meet certification requirements.”