Bio-jet fuel momentum soaring high

It seems like almost every week I’ve been seeing news about the use of biofuel in commercial airlines and I’ve even wrote a story about it on ICIS Chemical Business (link for subscribers only) when United Airlines announced its commercial demonstration flight from Texas to Chicago using 40% algae-derived jet fuel developed by Solazyme and refined by Honeywell’s UOP.

According to, the first top five renewable jet fuel supply chain companies in terms of economic viability, scalability, and sustainability are as follows:

According to the group, some renewable jet fuel companies could be producing enough renewable fuel to replace 10-20% of the fuel of a typical mid-sized airline in the next five years in their current state. As of the posting of this blog, about 45m liters of renewable jet fuel worldwide has been produced, the group said.

Elsevier, the science division of  ICIS’ parent company Reed Elsevier, is said to have developed a database tool called Biofuel Techselect which is composed of 2,000 bioenergy supply chain companies, incorporating a range of technologies including waste-to-energy and algae. The green blogger’s next move is to go downstairs on the Elsevier floor and do some snooping. Maybe I’ll try to crash their Christmas party instead ;-) .

Meanwhile, in recent news, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) via the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center has actually awarded $7.7m to eight companies that include, among others, LanzaTech ($3m), Virent ($1.5m), and Honeywell’s UOP ($1.1m). The companies selected will help the FAA develop and approve alternative, sustainably-sourced “drop in” jet fuels that can be used without changing aircraft engine systems or airport fueling infrastructure.

For LanzaTech, the company said it is working on producing alcohols from waste gas and then its partner Swedish Biofuels will convert the alcohols to jet fuel.A key goal of the project is to produce 100+ gallons of alternative jet fuel for testing by the US Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the certification process for alcohol to jet (ATJ) fuels.

Virent said it intends to demonstrate its expertise in converting a wide variety of conventional sugars and lignocellulosic biomass to jet fuel, while UOP is working with Gevo on converting isobutanol into jet fuel. UOP will deliver 100 gallons of isobutanol-based renewable jet fuel to the government in 2012, which will then be evaluated to ensure it is compatible with aircraft engines and that it meets specification for flight.

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