By now, we’re all familiar with the idea that our lives, from the food we eat to the cars we drive, have carbon footprints. Flying comes under special scrutiny both because jets pump carbon directly into the upper atmosphere and because it is often volitional — we fly for business instead of teleconferencing and jet to
At a meeting on May 6 in São Paulo, Brazil, industry stakeholders formed ABRABA to spearhead development of aviation biofuels. The effort signals a growing concern for the growth of the industry within a carbon and oil constrained future.
Earlier this month, aviation companies, biofuel producers, and the sugar cane, algae, and jatropha industries came together to form the Brazilian Aviation Biofuels Alliance (Aliança Brasileira para Biocombustíveis de Aviação, or ABRABA). As the aviation industry continues to feel the crunch from rising fuel costs and price volatility, ABRABA represents the latest multi stakeholder effort to ramp up biofuel production in the commercial aviation sector (see CAAFI).
A NASA-sponsored competition to design futuristic, fuel-efficient airplanes has led to a jet prototype that would burn roughly 70 percent less fuel than current aircraft.
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed what they called a D-series “double bubble” jet, which features a wide fuselage composed of two partial cylinders fused together in an aerodynamic shape.
The prototype also has a smaller tail, skinnier wings, and engines mounted on the rear of the fuselage instead of the wings, which allows the engines to suck in slower-moving air and increase efficiency.
Aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. Hemmed in by emerging certifications, a petroleum-based distribution network, and lack of supply, the industry is stuck on petroleum fuels for now, but not by choice.
Pressure to integrate more biofuels into the supply chain is palpable: oil price increases, oil price volatility, oil scarcity, greenhouse gas emission regulation, and increasingly, corporate social responsibility commitments. The future of the aviation sector is dependent on its ability to pivot away from petroleum-based fuels to alternative sources of energy, and they must do it quickly.
One caveat: while demand may be substantial, no one knows for sure if supply can keep pace, which makes statements from aviation experts at the World Biofuels Markets taking place in Amsterdam this week all that more interesting.
The U.S. Congress is coming under increased lobbying pressure from the algal organizations to extend tax code parity to algae-based biofuels.
The Algal Biomass Organization and members of the Biotechnology Industry Organization are urging Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) to adopt an amendment offered to the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Jeff Bingaman D-(NM).
The amendment would ensure algae fuels receive the financial and regulatory benefits available to other advanced biofuel feedstocks and promote the development and commercialization of algae fuels.