Air travel is more bio-based. Gevo, Inc., the world’s only commercial producer of renewable isobutanol, announced last Tuesday that it has come to an agreement with Lufthansa to evaluate Gevo’s renewable jet fuel with the goal of approving Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ) for commercial aviation use. Lufthansa’s testing is being supported through work with the European Commission.
“ATJ, like the Fischer-Tropsch pathway, has the potential to use lignocellulosic waste as feedstock, but promises to do so at less cost than Fischer-Tropsch,” said Alexander Zschocke, Lufthansa Group Senior Manager Aviation Biofuels. Lufthansa is a leader in the marketplace for alternative fuels. “By using isobutanol as a renewable raw material for producing jet fuel, the resulting jet fuel has the mixtures of molecules typical of petro-based jet fuel making it directly compatible with engines and infrastructure. Renewable jet embodies the potential of cleaner, greener, and as we scale up, cost competitive drop-in fuels,” said Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s chief executive officer.
“We greatly appreciate Lufthansa’s and the European Commission’s support of this effort. Through initiatives like this, the commercial airlines are seeking to prove out ATJ and move it towards commercialization. ATJ from Gevo’s isobutanol is a clean burning, homegrown, drop-in jet fuel, and we have a potential route to deliver aviation biofuels at scale and at competitive cost.” Gevo’s patented ATJ fuel is truly a drop-in fuel, designed to be fully compliant with aviation fuel specifications and provide equal performance, including fit-for-purpose properties. Gevo is a leading renewable chemicals and next-generation biofuels company. Gevo’s patent-protected, capital-light business model converts existing ethanol plants into bio-refineries to make isobutanol. This versatile chemical can be directly integrated into existing chemical and fuel products to deliver environmental and economic benefits. Gevo has executed initial commercial-scale production runs at its isobutanol facility in Luverne, Minnesota, constructed in conjunction with ICM, a leading provider of proprietary ethanol process technology.
The airlines are looking with great attention to the use of biofuels. Lufthansa is not the only one. KLM began to test flights using biofuels in 2009. On 23 November 2009, the Dutch company operated the world’s first demonstration flight with passengers on board using biofuel. On this flight, one engine ran on a mix of 50% biofuel made from camelina (huttentut). On 29 June 2011, this was followed by the first commercial flight on biokerosene from Amsterdam to Paris with 171 passengers on board. The biokerosene used on this flight was made from recycled cooking oil supplied by SkyNRG. In September a series of flights were operated on this route.
The aviation industry, policy-makers and producers of agrarian commodities view agrofuels as the solution to growth of the sector. They plan to use about two million tonnes of bio-kerosene per year by 2020 in Europe, compared to almost none now. This means that about three percent of all the kerosene in Europe could be bio-kerosene by 2020.“Our ambition is to fly with 1 percent of bio-kerosene by 2015,” said Camiel Eurlings, KLM corporate director. “That may seem like nothing at all, but I can tell you that this a big step within the world of the aviation industry.”