Aviation biofuel approval a difficult path - producer

07 May 2013 16:38  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--The development of aviation biofuels is being hindered by a difficult approval process and limited commercial viability, a producer said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Fuel Forum, a North American producer said without official approval it was hard to find the financial backing required to get new biofuels to commercial level.

“The approval body say it is not their role to streamline the process, but rather ensure the safety of the alternative fuel,” the producer said.

"And there is little money to be made on aviation biofuels when consumers want fuel at the same price or cheaper than conventional oil products and there is no or little premium for jet fuel over diesel."

The approval body is ASTM International, which develops and delivers international voluntary consensus standards.

Day two of the IATA Fuel Forum saw in-depth discussions on fuel quality and specifications, with a panel session discussing the approval process of aviation fuel additives and new fuels.

Panellist Tedd Biddle, fuels technical fellow at aerospace company Pratt & Whitney, outlined what is required in the approval process and said there are currently eight fuels and additives undergoing testing.

Mr Biddle, who championed the new global standard practice for the qualification and approval of new fuels, said the approval process is straightforward and focuses on a ‘no harm’ method.

However, HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) which was approved in 2011, remains the only approved biofuel for aviation use. Approval for biofuels such as alcohol to jet is expected within the next two years.

Mr Biddle said while the approval board is currently investigating FAME (fatty acid methyl ester) this is only to test its impact in emergency situations where it has accidently entered the jet fuel chain, rather than opening the door for it to be used in aviation.

The IATA Fuel Forum continues until Thursday.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Kate Wilcock
+44 208 652 3214

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