Posts Tagged ‘aviation’
Recently I wrote about Boeing’s all-electric satellite, which might launch later this year. Not to be outdone, apparently, Airbus Group flew the first all-electric aircraft late last month, called the E-Fan.
The E-Fan is an all-electric trainer aircraft made of composite material.
Leaving jet fuel behind means there is slight hitch: at the moment the the plane can fly for about an hour on a single charge. In any case this is a pretty big deal, because the largest aerospace and defense company in Europe and the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturer is backing it, is planning to build the trainer in series and is also planning to use what it learns to eventually develop a regional passenger model. Read the rest of this entry »
Pacific Northwest aviation and renewable energy interests say there are encouraging signs of an emerging market for sustainable aviation fuels. And those same interests want to make it real.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest consortium, in a report this month, concludes that no single feedstock or technology pathway is likely to provide sustainable aviation fuel at the scale or speed needed to produce and maintain jet fuel supply.
Therefore, the 132-page report, “Powering the Next Generation of Flight,” focuses on a portfolio of options, including different conversion technologies and sources of potentially sustainable biomass, including oilseeds, forest residues, solid waste, and algae.
Instead of trying to single out the best source of aviation fuels, SAFN emphasizes the need to create “complete supply chains that can draw upon diverse feedstocks.” Read the rest of this entry »
It was a very good week indeed for green and Pacific Northwest—the PNW’s first cargo ship plugged into shore power at the Port of Tacoma, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received an $18 million environmental grant and the Port of Portland received a 2010 Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here’s the run-down:
- State, federal and Port of Tacoma and Totem Ocean Trailer Express officials flipped the switch on October 27 on the Pacific Northwest’s first cargo ship to run on dockside shore power.
Helped by an EPA grant worth nearly $1.5 million, two TOTE cargo ships will now plug into electrical power and shut down diesel engines while docked during weekly calls at their Tacoma terminal. Also known as cold ironing, it’s a great way to reduce air-polluting diesel emissions, but has been slow to catch on. Passenger vessels at the Port of Seattle have had the shore power option for several years.
Tacoma port officials said the $2.7 million shore power project will reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent during TOTE’s 100 ship calls each year in Tacoma. That equals about 1.9 tons of diesel particulates and 1,360 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
TOTE, a private shipping company that serves the Alaska trade, contributed about $1.2 million to retrofit the two ships to accommodate shore power connections and add some of the terminal infrastructure. The port provided environmental permitting, grant administration and project management.
The EPA grant was provided under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
(ARRA) of 2009 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. Read the rest of this entry »
If you were one of the passengers on KLM Royal Dutch Airline’s first passenger flight powered by bio-kerosene last week, then you were also one of the first to get a whiff of this new sustainable fuel, if indeed it is whiff-able.
The Netherlands airline also announced the formation of a joint venture to develop sustainable biofuels on a large scale. Called SkyEnergy, the consortium includes KLM, North Sea Petroleum and Spring Associates. In addition, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will advise the consortium about the ecological aspects of the venture.
Peter Hartman, KLM’s president and CEO, said the test flight proved that “this is technically feasible. Government, industry and society at large must now join forces to ensure that we quickly gain access to a continuous supply of biofuel.”
Here’s my offering for Blog Action Day:
There’s All Nippon Airways’ bizarre initiative urging passengers to visit the terminal restroom and “lighten the load” before boarding their planes. These pre-flight emissions apparently will help reduce fuel and carbon emissions, according to a recent report in the UK’s Daily Mail.
Seriously, the Japanese airline says lighter passengers mean lighter aircraft, which means less fuel consumption. It has a kind of Fox News logic to it maybe, but then … never mind.
Nippon hopes the one-month trial, which started Oct. 1, will reduce carbon emissions by five tons in 30 days. It might be interesting to delve into how ANA came up with that number and the science and measurement techniques used, but then… never mind.
It’s just another dumb thing that passengers are subjected to the minute we enter the airport. I know – let’s require all passengers to disrobe entirely before boarding and carry-on a maximum of 10 pounds of stuff and no baggage. (That would also make going through security much more fun and a breeze, so to speak.)
How about requiring that we go on a diet and lose at least five pounds before every flight? That would lighten the load considerably and contribute to the general health of the populace.
Then once aboard, instead of pretzels during the flight airlines could serve beans because after all, they need the gas.
There’s algae and switchgrass – now add camelina to the roster of second generation biofuel crops.
Camelina could become a major player in the realm of aviation fuels. The Bozeman, MT renewable fuel company Sustainable Oils says the results of a life cycle analysis of jet fuel derived from camelina seeds shows that the fuel reduces carbon emissions by 84 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel.
Sustainable’s research was done in collaboration with UOP, a Honeywell company, at Michigan Tech University. The study was based on camelina grown in Montana and processed into biojet fuel using UOP’s hydroprocessing refining technology.
(Click here for a description of the UOP Renewable Jet Process.)
“The quickest way to reduce carbon emissions from aviation is to begin replacing petroleum fuel with fuel made from renewable and sustainable camelina oil,” says Scott Johnson, general manager of Sustainable Oils. “The acreage that we have contracted for 2009 will be used primarily to continue to develop the promising biojet market.”
He adds that the company has planted “thousands of acres” of camelina “specifically for this use.” This will “prepare us to supply the hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel we will need within five years. No other potential feedstock can provide as much fuel in as short a horizon.”
So what is camelina? It’s it’s a plant that produces seeds that are apparently well-suited as a sustainable biofuel crop. The seeds naturally contain high oil content. Also ithe oils are low in saturated fat, the plant is drought resistant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.
Most importantly, it is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can grow in marginal land.
Camelina does not displace other crops or compete as a food source. It is estimated that the state of Montana alone could support between 2 and 3 million acres of camelina, generating 200 to 300 million gallons of oil each year.
“Camelina is one of the most promising sources for renewable fuels that we’ve seen,” said Billy Glover, managing director, Environmental Strategy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It performed as good if not better than traditional jet fuel during our test flight with Japan Airlines earlier this year, and supports our goal of accelerating the market availability of sustainable, renewable fuel sources that can help aviation reduce emissions. It’s clear from the LCA results that camelina is one of the leading near-term options and, even better, it’s available today.”
Professor David Shonnard, Robbins Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering at MTU says, “Camelina green jet exhibits one the largest greenhouse gas emission reduction of any agricultural feedstock-derived biofuel I’ve ever seen.
“This high number is the result of the unique attributes of the crop – its low fertilizer requirements, high oil yield and the use of co-products, such as meal and biomass, for other uses.”
And the answer is not for a long time, at least in large enough quantities to make a difference.
Fuel is by far the biggest cost center for airlines, mainly because aviation fuel is the most expensive fuel to refine and, well, airplanes guzzle a lot of it.
That’s why the drive to develop an alternative aviation biofuel is becoming increasingly urgent for aircraft and engine manufacturers.
But even with the attention of the two largest aircraft makers, Boeing and Airbus, aviation biofuel is not exactly on the near-event horizon: Think 2025 before biofuel accounts for even 25 percent of the fuel airlines use, says Christian Dumas, vice president of sustainable development and eco-efficiency for Airbus.
“I hope we can go faster than that,” he says.
At least there’s been progress on two important fronts, says Paul Steele, executive director of the Air Transport Action Group. One is that the aviation industry has moved past any consideration of food-based alternative fuels. Instead it is concentrating on the development of second-generation biofuels using non-food biomass.
Steele also says that research over the past year has proven that biofuels are technically feasible for aviation without changes to airframes and engines.
Now the future of aviation biofuel hinges on questions about feedstock availability, especially its availability in sufficient quantities.
Bill Glover, Boeing managing director of environmental strategy, says it is “reasonable to see aviation biofuel commercially available in the next 3-5 years.” But not in very large quantities. As for significant amounts, Glover says “It depends on how you define significant.” That area is still being worked on from a technical and economic standpoint. “It’s hard to forecast a certain amount at a certain date.”
The first priority is get the right feedstocks at the right quantities and availability, said Jennifer Holmgren, Honeywell UOP’s general manager, renewable energy and chemicals business unit.
Honeywell’s stake in this became clear late last month when it launched Envergent Technologies, a joint venture with Ensyn Corp. that plans to offer technology and equipment to convert second-generation biomass into pyrolysis oil for power generation, heating fuel and for conversion into transportation fuels.
Boeing and Airbus say they are not planning to make their own alternative fuels, but are working with ethanol and other biofuel producers to make planes ready for the new technologies in the coming decades.
Also, they are not directly investing in feedstock development. Boeing is doing some “small development support to find out what’s possible in feedstock,” says Glover. “We’re in an exploratory mode.” Airbus is in the same mode.
An excess of caution? If Boeing and Airbus were to put their huge cash reserves and the weight of their technological expertise behind second-generation biomass and the feedstock needed for aviation biofuel, its ETA might change.