How does Boeing look at bio-jet fuel?

Issuing time:2017-12-28 11:38

If it were not for gutter oil, the public would still be unfamiliar with the concept of aviation biofuel, which was once a "rat crossing the street" and then transformed into a tall aviation fuel, which really made the public shine.

It all started four years ago, in 2011, KLM began commercial use of bio-aviation fuel, for conversion into aviation oil, the professional term aviation biofuel officially entered the public eye. In China, China Eastern Airlines conducted a test flight verification of aviation bio-kerosene in April 2013, and HNA also conducted a commercial passenger flight of aviation bio-kerosene in March 2015.

Although the story is just beginning, aviation biofuels are currently only commercially available on a small scale, but due to the huge demand for aviation fuel, cooking oil is clearly not enough. The development of aviation biofuel requires more diversified feedstocks and technologies.

"At present, the biological aviation oil used in domestic test flights comes from catering waste oil (commonly known as" gutter oil "), paulownia seed and palm oil. At present, these three feedstocks alone are not enough to meet the needs of mass production of aviation biofuels." Boeing China technology and research and development vice president Wu Dongyang in an interview with the all-powerful special (caixinenergy) reporter Liu Shutong (the Netherlands to study abroad returned entrepreneurs) said.

In recent years, due to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the development of the aviation industry, Boeing, as an aircraft manufacturer, has also focused on strengthening the attention and research and development of aviation biofuels.

According to reports, Boeing began to pay attention to and promote the development of aviation biofuels in 2005, and in 2006 with the United States Aeronautics and Space Administration and Brazil's Tecbio biofuels company jointly developed aviation biofuels. In China, Boeing also began to promote the development of aviation biofuels in the Chinese market in 2009, including related research and development work.

For the shortage of raw materials and high costs, Wu Dongyang said that Boeing is addressing the problem from two aspects: forward, looking for and exploring a large amount of biomass that can be used for the production of aviation fuel to solve the problem of the lack of biomass resources, such as microbial, lignocellulose and other biomass for the production of biological jet fuel; Second, by developing new technological routes to economically convert a variety of biomass resources into aviation fuel. Boeing hopes that through these two aspects of work to ultimately achieve the purpose of reducing product costs.

Development status and existing problems

Does the use of bio-aviation fuel affect the efficiency and safety of aircraft?

A: In recent years, there have been more than 1,600 test flights and commercial flights based on aviation biofuels around the world, including many long-distance flights. These flight test projects have aroused widespread concern in society, played a good role in promoting and publicizing the development of the entire industry, and proved that the standard aviation biofuel can replace or partially replace petrochemical jet fuel.

What are the main difficulties with biofuel propulsion? Technology? The ingredients? How is the situation in China different from Boeing's situation elsewhere?

A: The main difficulties are both, especially in technology, the oxygen content of biomass is very high, how to develop an economic biomass deoxidation process and technology, is the difficulty and core point of the production of aviation biofuels.

Internationally, the development of aviation biofuels began roughly in 2005. China started aviation biofuel research and development in 2009, so there is not a big gap internationally. China is a country with less land and more people, and the per capita cultivated land area is less than half of the world average. Ensuring people's food consumption is a major task for the country. This means that food biomass raw materials such as sucrose, corn, etc., cannot be used to produce biofuels in our country. Therefore, the main criterion for the development of aviation biofuels in China is not to "compete with the people for food, and compete with the food for land." China should actively explore and develop aviation biofuel production technologies suitable for China's biomass resources based on its national conditions. For example, the development of crop straw, forestry waste, urban solid waste, industrial "three wastes" and other waste as raw materials of low-cost production technology. On the one hand, it can turn waste into treasure, and on the other hand, it can solve the environmental pollution problem caused by the improper disposal of these wastes.

It is said that the current cost of bio-aviation fuel is still very high, 2-3 times that of ordinary aviation fuel, the main reason for what, then Boeing has explored some sustainable ways to operate?

A: The main reason is the high price of currently available raw materials and the high cost of production. In the mass production of aviation biofuels, it will also encounter a series of difficulties such as limited raw material sources, unstable composition and quality, and uneven seasonal distribution. Therefore, technological innovation is the necessary way and urgent task to realize the commercialization of aviation biofuel.

In order to realize the large-scale industrial production of aviation biofuel, stable and abundant biomass sources are important factors. At present, the bio-aviation oils used in domestic test flights come from catering waste oil, small tung seed (jatropha fruit) and palm oil. From the current situation, these three raw materials alone are difficult to meet the needs of aviation biofuel mass production. Therefore, Boeing is addressing this problem from two aspects: first, looking for and exploring biomass that is large and can be used for the production of aviation fuel to solve the problem of the lack of biomass resources, such as microbial, lignocellulosic and other biomass for the production of biological jet fuel; Second, by developing new technological routes to economically convert these various biomass resources into aviation fuel. We hope that through these two aspects of work to ultimately achieve the purpose of reducing product costs.

How best to get traditional oil companies involved in the biofuel push?

A: On the one hand, by improving the economics and commercialization feasibility of aviation biofuels, on the other hand, by controlling carbon emissions and developing favorable subsidy policies, traditional oil companies can join the process of promoting bio-jet fuel.

In 2005, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) set out a carbon reduction plan for 2050. It is hoped that through a series of technological innovations, carbon emissions in 2020 will be maintained at the 2005 level, and reduced to half of 2005 by 2050. On the one hand, it is a rapidly growing industry, and on the other hand, it is a huge emission reduction task, so that the entire civil aviation industry is facing a great challenge of carbon emission reduction. In 2008, the European Union planned to impose a carbon tax on aviation from 2012. Although this initiative was not implemented due to the opposition of various countries, we are also aware that greenhouse gas emissions are an important cause of the current series of climate change and environmental problems, reducing carbon emissions, if not a mandatory requirement, is a worthy goal for the entire aviation industry.

Some countries have developed favorable subsidies to encourage the development of aviation biofuels. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed in 2013 to include aviation biofuels in the Renewable Fuel Standard system, which means that producers of fuel ethanol and biodiesel, Producers of aviation biofuels can be subsidized by obtaining a Renewable Assessment Index (RINs).

Later, as oil resources are depleted and costs increase, aviation biofuels will also be helpful in balancing fuel costs. This is also one of the important purposes of promoting the commercialization of aviation biofuels.

When does Boeing expect biofuels to be available on a large scale? What kind of goals does the International Aviation Organization have?

A: From the current situation, the production cost of aviation biofuel is still much higher than that of petrochemical jet fuel, so it is still difficult to popularize the application of aviation biofuel on flights until new technologies and commercial production models of cheap aviation biofuel are found. It is hoped that within 10 years there will be enough technological innovation and breakthroughs to enable a full-scale aviation biofuel industry.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing the entire aviation industry, has proposed to ICAO "an average annual fuel efficiency improvement of 1.5% from 2009 to 2020; Zero growth in carbon emissions by 2020; A 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. The UK Sustainable Aviation Alliance (SA) released its CO2 Roadmap for Sustainable Aviation in March 2012, pointing out that the UK aviation industry can achieve significant growth by 2050 without leading to a substantial increase in net CO2 emissions. The plan is to reduce CO2 emissions by developing advanced aircraft and engine technologies, promoting sustainable biofuel applications, and improving air traffic management and operating procedures.

Boeing's role

As an aircraft manufacturer, neither a supplier of aviation fuel nor an airline that uses aviation fuel, why is it investing so actively in this field and what role does it hope to play in this industry chain?

A: Above, the use of aviation biofuels can effectively reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the aviation industry and avoid environmental pollution caused by the disorderly treatment of biomass resources. Boeing has the determination and obligation to promote the development of the aviation biofuel industry to reduce the environmental impact of the entire aviation industry and help improve air quality in China. Second, Boeing has a strong scientific and engineering strength, a clear understanding of the performance and requirements of aviation fuels, and is deeply involved in the approval process of aviation biofuels, so it is one of the companies in the industry that is well positioned to facilitate this work. Third, at present, solar energy, fuel cells, nuclear energy, etc. are difficult to apply to the field of commercial aviation, aviation biofuels are only one of the viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Fourth, for our customers, airlines, fuel costs are more than 35% of total operating costs and are currently the largest single cost for airlines. The commercialization of aviation biofuels is helping to meet the needs of airlines in terms of fuel usage and price.

Where in the world is Boeing currently working on bio-jet fuel projects? What are the main ways Boeing is working with airlines around the world to advance biofuel?

A: Boeing is involved in research, development and testing of new aviation biofuel feedstocks and conversion processes in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. And with many airlines, including Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air China, Hainan Airlines, etc., conducted flight tests of aviation biofuel.

The main ways of cooperation include: (1) establishing a regional aviation biofuel roadmap to jointly assess the regional feasibility of the aviation biofuel supply chain, including the United States, China, Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South Africa; (b) Support airlines in the use of approved aviation biofuels for test flights and commercial flights and assist in the testing of unapproved aviation biofuels; Working with airlines and other industry partners to create the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Users Group (SAFUG), which has joined nearly 30 airlines worldwide, representing around a third of global jet fuel demand, to advance the development, certification and commercialization of sustainable aviation biofuels.

What is the progress of Boeing and Air China in promoting biofuels?

A: In 2011, Boeing, in cooperation with Air China, petrochina, HP, and Honeywell UOP, successfully implemented and completed the test flight of aviation biofuels in China using Boeing 747-400 aircraft at Beijing Capital Airport. The flight validated the feasibility of aviation biofuel technology and industry chain in China and provided important data support for airlines, laying the foundation for biofuel standard setting in China and future commercial flights.

This year, Boeing partnered with Hainan Airlines and Sinopec to carry passengers on the first batch of bio-jet fuel flights using Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This flight marks the entry of China's aviation industry into the commercial flight stage in the field of energy conservation and emission reduction, and will also have a far-reaching impact on the sustainable development of new energy applications and green and low-carbon flight.

In addition, Boeing is also based on the local, combined with China's national conditions and research and development capabilities, actively explore and develop China's unique biomass resources, jointly established the joint research center of energy conservation and emission reduction with COMAC, and cooperate with universities and research institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences to jointly develop biomass raw materials and processing technology. At present, Boeing has jointly carried out more than 20 aviation biofuel research projects with more than 10 domestic partners, including research and processing technology development of biomass such as energy plants, agricultural and forestry wastes, waste oils and fats, establishing pilot workshops, exploring the feasibility of technology scale-up, and conducting comprehensive economic analysis and environmental assessment. Estimate the annual production of various raw materials and analyze the utilization of existing raw materials.

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