green and sustainable business

KLM flies passengers with bio-kerosene

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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.”

The development of bio-kerosene is a quest that KLM is pursuing “in accordance with strict financial, technological and ecological criteria,” the airline states.

“The food chain may not be jeopardized, and production of bio-kerosene should not go hand in hand with deforestation or excessive water consumption,” Hartman explained. “The conservation of biodiversity is, of course, also a precondition. Our cooperation with WWF is both important and inspirational.”

Johan van de Gronden, director of WWF The Netherlands, calls SkyEnergy “a groundbreaking initiative. KLM’s demonstration flight serves as a concrete step towards achieving a more sustainable future. We still have a long way to go in relation to biofuels for aviation, but by investing in this manner KLM is once again taking the lead.”

The airline has been involved in bio-kerosene research since 2007.

Maybe KLM is the sustainable aviation fuel leader with these recent developments, but there are lots of other airlines also moving on the biofuels front, and there are a variety of different biofuels under study, including jatropha, camelina, algae and babassu palm and coconut oil.

The formation of SkyEnergy accelerates jet biofuel research and development and takes its potential for eventual commercialization to a new and economically viable level.

KLM admits a “market breakthrough” is needed on the flight path to completely sustainable aviation. Its commitment can’t exist in a vacuum: The efforts and support of government, industry and “broader society” are needed.

Also needed: Unity around a standard aviation biofuel so that all of the R&D and testing can be more focused and its widespread use measured in terms of years instead of decades.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

30 November, 2009 at 12:53 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] of F-16 fighter-bombers became the first aerial demonstration team to fly on biofuel. KLM has also successfully tested bio-kerosene for use on passenger aircraft. Those biofuel tests point to an emerging market, […]

  2. […] a company called Red Rock Biofuels to start buying renewable jet fuel. In late 2009 KLM formed a joint venture to develop sustainable biofuel – bio-kerosene – on a large scale. The SkyEnergy the consortium […]

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