Fri 10 Nov 2017 – Eight airlines have flown from Chicago O’Hare International Airport using a jet fuel blend containing Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) renewable fuel derived from bio-isobutanol. Blended and supplied by Air BP, the fuel was made available using the airport’s existing fuelling infrastructure, such as pipelines, terminals and tankage. This was the first time blended fuel had been supplied to airline customers through the main fuel hydrant system. The airlines – Lufthansa, United Airlines, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Atlas Air – were participating in Fly Green Day, an event to help boost the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuels, sponsored by the O’Hare Fuel Committee and organised by Gevo.
“This is a significant milestone as we continue to develop our ATJ platform,” said Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “We fundamentally believe that our ATJ is one of the most cost-competitive bio-based jet alternatives in the market place. Leveraging existing supply infrastructure should lower the full cost to serve our end customers. Jet fuel is one of Gevo’s core market segments and this represents the next step in building a profitable business from this market vertical.”
Gevo’s ATJ renewable fuel, which can be produced from a variety of carbohydrate feedstocks, was approved for commercial aviation use in April 2016 and was first used by launch customer Alaska Airlines. The isobutanol is produced at its Luverne fermentation facility in Minnesota and converted into jet fuel at a biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas. Test flights using the fuel have been carried out in the past by the US Air Force, Army and Navy.
Involved in the process throughout, Air BP worked with Gevo to bring to the airport a demonstration batch of biojet produced from bio-isobutanol and purchased by the airline customers. The aviation fuel company blended the biofuel with regular Jet A fuel and certified its quality.
“This is the first time we have supplied our customers with biojet produced from alcohol and demonstrates how we are working with multiple suppliers to build a leadership position in this area,” said Jon Platt, CEO of Air BP. “We anticipate that through this promotion we will inspire more of our customers to use lower carbon fuels.”
In January 2016, Air BP introduced biojet via the existing fuelling infrastructure at Oslo Airport in Norway and has since supplied Bergen Airport in the country and Halmstad Airport in Sweden. A year ago, Air BP announced a $30 million investment in aviation biofuel producer Fulcrum BioEnergy, with the aim of distributing and supplying biojet into aircraft at key hubs across North America.
Meanwhile, IATA’s annual Alternative Fuel Symposium takes place next week in Vancouver. It will cover outcomes from ICAO’s recent Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, deployment solutions, 2020 production potential, global and regional initiatives, and airline strategy and demand trends including sustainable aviation fuel eligibility in the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme.
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