Boeing and CSIRO partner on biofuels

Boeing and CSIRO will study ways to turn feedstocks grown in northern Australia into sustainable aviation biofuels.

Boeing and CSIRO have launched a year-long study on the potential for growing new feedstocks in northern Queensland that could be turned into sustainable aviation biofuels.

The first phase of the study will focus on current and potential biomass production systems based on grasses and fast growing trees that would not disrupt current grazing and farming practices in northern Australia. The study will also look at potential fuel conversion technology and how production systems would fit in with local infrastructure.

The study will build on recommendations from CSIRO’s Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation roadmap, released in May 2011, which made the case for an Australian bio-based aviation fuel industry that CSIRO says could create 12,000 clean energy jobs over 20 years while reducing Australia’s dependence on aviation fuel imports by $2 billion per year.

Biofuels have drawn increasing interest in the aviation industry as oil prices have soared in recent years, with both Virgin and Qantas looking for alternative sources of cleaner fuels. Virgin last month signed on with a company developing a method to make biofuel out of farm and agricultural waste and had earlier staked a claim to a project that could convert mallee tree biomass into fuel.

Air France recently completed what it billed as “the world’s greenest commercial flight” using a 50:50 mix of biofuel and normal jet fuel.