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Boeing seeking approval for blending renewable diesel into jet fuel

16 January 2014

US aircraft maker Boeing Co. seeks approvals from authorities around the world to blend renewable diesel into jet fuel. The company is working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other stakeholders to secure the necessary regulatory approvals for using “green diesel” as jet fuel.

Boeing, the FAA, engine manufacturers, renewable diesel producers and others are compiling a detailed research report that will be submitted to key stakeholders in the fuel approvals process. These activities follow a 2011 initiative by Boeing and the aviation community to include a blend of up to 50% aviation biofuel in international jet fuel specifications.

“Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel,” said Dr. James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division. “We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry's reliance on fossil fuel.”

Renewable diesel is made from fatty feedstocks such as vegetable oils (e.g., palm oil) or animal fats via refinery hydrogenation processes. Some renewable diesel fuels are also referred to as hydrogeneated vegetable oil (HVO). Renewable diesel is composed of hydrocarbons, similar to those found in petroleum diesel or jet fuels. Renewable diesel should not be confused with biodiesel, which is a methyl ester based fuel of different properties.

Significant “green diesel” production capacity already exists in the US, Europe and Singapore, said Boeing, apparently making reference to the Neste Oil renewable diesel plants in Rotterdam and Singapore.

The existing production capacity could supply as much as 1%—about 600 million gallons—of global commercial jet fuel demand, according to Boeing. The wholesale cost—about $3 a gallon with US government incentives—is competitive with petroleum jet fuel, said the company.

While Boeing emphasized that the move is intended to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation industry, there are significant doubts about the sustainability of fuels made from vegetable oils, other agricultural crops, and biomass in general.

Source: Boeing