Could leftover branches and sawdust be turned into jet fuel?
03 / 12 / 2015
A new study is looking in whether leftover branches, sawdust and other forest-industry waste can be turn into sustainable aviation biofuel.
Planemaker Boeing, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Canada’s aviation industry are among those collaborating to launch a project to produce sustainable jet aviation biofuel.
Canada, which has extensive sustainably certified forests, has long used mill and forest residues to make wood pellets that are used to generate electricity.
A consortium that includes Boeing, Air Canada, WestJet, Bombardier, research institutions and industry partners will assess whether forest waste could also be harnessed to produce sustainable aviation biofuel using thermochemical processing.
Julie Felgar, managing director of environmental strategy & integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: "Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term.
"Canada is in a terrific position to leverage its sustainable forests to make environmental progress for its aviation industry and other transport sectors."
A 2015 Boeing-sponsored study by UBC found that aviation biofuel made from forest waste could meet 10% – about 46m gallons or 175m litres – of British Columbia’s annual jet fuel demand.
These efforts could also supply biofuel to ground and marine vehicles, saving about 1m tons of CO2 emissions per year on a life cycle basis across the transportation sector, the study found.
Teresa Ehman, director of environmental affairs at Air Canada, said: "Air Canada believes that developing a reliable supply of sustainable aviation biofuel in Canada will play a role in achieving our emission reduction goals.
"By utilising Canada’s strong forestry research expertise and the knowledge of industry collaborators, this project will contribute significantly to understanding the viability of forest residue-sourced biofuel."
The consortium is led by UBC and NORAM Engineering and Constructors of Vancouver. Project partner SkyNRG, based in the Netherlands, is the global market leader for sustainable jet fuel, having supplied biofuel to more than 20 carriers worldwide.