In Illinois, the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative released their recommendations from MASBI’s year-long study of the potential for aviation biofuels in the Midwest. In the 28-page report, MASBI, policymakers and experts identified next steps in advancing biofuels development, which can reduce carbon emissions, create green jobs in the Midwest, drive innovation in clean technology, improve energy security and power a sustainable future for aviation.
“For every 5 percent of petroleum jet fuel that can be offset by biofuels [in the Midwest],” the report’s authors said, “nearly 3,600 jobs will be created and 150,000 tons of carbon emissions will be avoided annually. MASBI’s recommendations, summarized below, are important next steps that can propel the aviation advanced biofuels industry toward generating some of the nearly 20 billion gallons of jet fuel required to support U.S commercial aviation.”
MASBI was led by United Airlines, Boeing, Honeywell’s UOP, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust. In addition, Argonne National Laboratory chaired an Advisory Council, which included government agencies and non-profit institutions. This initiative, the result of a yearlong study by MASBI researchers, builds on crucial steps taken by the industry since 2006 that have resulted in approved pathways, drop-in fuels, certification to fly aircraft commercially powered by advanced biofuels and more than 1,500 completed commercial flights to date.
1. Improve feedstock production capacity through agricultural innovation. Identify and promote potential additional biofuel production capacity generated by increased yield due to breeding and innovative planting such as crop rotations, and double and cover cropping with crops such as camelina, which can be produced between food crop rotations.
2. Tailor feedstocks to jet fuel. Develop advanced feedstocks tailored for jet fuel production, including the development of an oil seed crop with chemical properties predisposed for jet fuel production.
3. Investigate the impacts of uncertainty on production. Investigate the effects of uncertain conditions, such as changing policy, weather, seasonal intermittency, and co-products on the techno-economic performance of conversion technologies.
4. Advance technologies to convert lignocellulosic biomass. Biomass made up of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose (wood, residue biomass such as corn stover) is a very large-volume sustainable feedstock source. Increase investment in bio/catalytic pathways to produce jet fuels from depolymerized biomass, cellulosic sugars, or simple alcohols.
The Digest’s Take
The progress has been impressive on yields and crop establishment — particularly with jatropha and carinata. Over at SGB, they believe they have the economics lined up for $99 per barrel crude jatropha oils. More R&D is underway — and crops such as algae and camelina are of special interest — while the DOE is focused on fostering technologies that focus on aviation biofuels.
Notable Milestones to Date
The Old Switcheroo: the “now” of cellulosic biofuels vs “five years away” in oil & gas
Soak up the Sun: The USDA invests $25M in new fuel-focused, crop-based technologies. It’s showtime for drop-in fuels, oils in a wave of USDA co-investments — and a shift in philosophy to from “Make New” to “Make Do”.
Jatropha Loves to Fly and It Shows: It is becoming increasingly evident that, in the near-term, acute demand for aviation biofuel is going, one way or another, to result in heavy demand for jatropha and jatropha oil-based fuels. New deals for SGB in Brazil are confirming the trend.
ARPA-E unveils Project PETRO: ARPA-E aims to unleash new plants that recover more sunshine and produce more fuels. Specifically, a program titled “Plants Engineered To Replace Oil (PETRO)”. If successful, PETRO will create biofuels for half their current cost, finally making them cost-competitive with fuels from oil.
Cobalt, Mercurius, BioProcess Algae, Frontline land $17.7M in military biofuels grants: Pilot-scale biorefineries for drop-in military diesel, jet fuel the focus of the DOE’s latest grant round.