The South African Airways Group (SAA) last Friday operated Africa’s first sustainable biofuel flights. The flights on Boeing 737-800s between Johannesburg and Cape Town made history as the first sustainable biofuel flights to have taken place on the African continent. They used home-grown feedstock from the Marble Hall area in the Limpopo region of South Africa as part of Project Solaris, a biofuels project named after the energy tobacco plant used (a technology made in Italy). The nicotine-free, hybridised tobacco plant lends itself to the production of biofuel as the Solaris plant produces small leaves and prodigious flowers and seeds that are crushed to extract a vegetable crude oil. The Solaris plant is ideally suited for this purpose as the remaining seedcake is used as a high protein animal feed supplement that also contributes to food security.
Boeing, Aeromexico and Mexico’s Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA) will collaborate with a biojet program supported by Mexico’s Sector Fund for Energy Sustainability (SENER-CONACYT) to advance research and development of sustainable aviation biofuel in Mexico.
The initiative, announced last Thursday and coordinated through the Mexican Bioenergy Innovation Center, will support Mexico’s aviation sector as well as its environmental and socio-economic goals. Executives at Boeing, Aeromexico, ASA and the Potosinian Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IPICYT) formalized the initiative at a ceremony in Mexico City.
Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) opened a demonstration facility that will turn waste cooking oil, commonly referred to as “gutter oil” in China, into sustainable aviation biofuel. The two companies estimate that 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of biofuel could be made annually in China from used cooking oil.
Ground-breaking Australian research on the viability of aviation biofuels was released last Friday, at the culmination of almost three years of work by The University of Queensland, James Cook University, The Boeing Company, Virgin Australia, Mackay Sugar and IOR Energy.
The results of the unique study as part of the Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative have been published in the international journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining and were presented at the Boeing-hosted Aero Environment Summit in Sydney.
Researchers at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, based at The University of Queensland, looked at the engineering and associated financial viability of biofuel production.