By Roy L Hales
Air Canada’s announcement that it will use 400,000 litres of sustainable aviation biofuel (biojet) at Montréal-Trudeau Airport is much more significant than the amount of fuel being used. It is the next step towards mass adoption of biojet fuel.
Next Step Towards Mass Adoption Of Biojet
“To date, the majority of biojet has been used in direct to wing fueling. The significance of this project is that it will go upstream into the co-mingled fuel storage system. This will reduce delivered costs and make the widespread adoption of biojet more economically feasible and operationally efficient,” said Fred J. Ghatala of the Waterfall Group, one of the 14 stakeholder organizations in Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI).1
Other participants in the program include: Air Canada, ASCENT (US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Centre of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels & Environment @Washington State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), BioFuelNet, Boeing, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), International Air Transport Association (IATA), McGill University, National Research Council, Queen’s University, SkyNRG, Transport Canada, and the University of Toronto.
Though current specifications allow for blends to use up to 50% biojet, this would be much less in a shared facility.
“The percentage of biojet delivered to each airplane receiving the fuel would be below 10%. It would be relatively small, depending on the amount of fuel that is in the storage tank at that time,” said Ghatala.
The CBSCI is a three year project, which has tentatively set a target of going operational in the second quarter of 2017.
To Create An Operational Familiarity
“This project is intended to create operational familiarity with upstream blending in an airport,” said Ghatala.
Biojet is already being blended in the shared fuel facility at Oslo’s airport, in Norway, and Los Angeles airport is progressing with co-mingling.
“Even though this is occurring in other airports, it is important that (also) occur in Canada so that the participating airports, airlines and fuel consortiums have experience with it. So that in the future, this can become business as usual,” said Ghatala.
“In aviation, which has been exclusively reliant on fossil fuels, the targets they have set up for carbon neutral growth beginning in 2020 and a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 (relative to 2005 levels), require that renewables become an established and permanent part of their fuel mix going forward.”
A 1% adoption of biojet should be sufficient to meet the 2020 target of 0 emissions growth. By 2030, this will require a 7% inclusion.
“These number start out small, but as the industry is expected to grow the carbon emission reduction requirements will also need to grow,” said Ghatala.
“The industry has made marked progress in increasing efficiency of airlines, engine design and improved electrification, but at a certain point carbon has to be removed from the fuels they are combusting. That is what this project is intending to do.”
- Roy L Hales interview with Fred J. Ghatala of the Waterfall Group ↩