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Ground Delay: Where Are the Sustainable Aviation Fuels?

Submitted by on February 21, 2017 – 10:59 amNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  … (S)omething less than $200 million has been so far positively and affordably earmarked by lenders to revolutionize the entire supply chain of US air transportation fuels. Which is to say, you can just about get better terms for money from loansharkers to bet on the ponies than for sustainable air transport.

The other problem comes from an on-going misalignment between extremely well-intentioned and farsighted federal and state policies aimed at fostering clean fuels. Which is to say, the Federal Government offers the RFS, which gives support to both ground and air transport fuels, but California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard only supports ground transport.

Which is to say, if you’re a fuel producer, the only way to produce sustainable aviation fuels is to persuade your investors that you really should forego about $0.80 per gallon in LCFS credits, and take one for the team and do it for the country.

The latest from AltAir comes via United Airlines, which made history by becoming the first U.S. airline to begin use of commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled flights with the departure of United Flight 708 from Los Angeles International Airport. The launch marks a significant milestone in the commercial aviation industry by moving beyond demonstration flights and test programs to the use of advanced biofuels for United’s ongoing operations.

United has agreed to purchase up to 15 million gallons of sustainable biofuel from AltAir Paramount over a three-year period. The airline has begun using the biofuel in its daily operations at LAX, storing and delivering it in the same way as traditional fuel. To highlight this achievement, United will operate flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with the dedicated use of AltAir Paramount renewable fuel for two weeks, while also integrating this fuel into its regular operations at the airport.

Most recently, Gevo entered into a heads of agreement with Deutsche Lufthansa AG to supply Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ) from its first commercial hydrocarbons facility, intended to be built in Luverne, MN.  The terms of the agreement contemplate Lufthansa purchasing up to 8 million gallons per year of ATJ from Gevo, or up to 40 million gallons over the 5 year life of the off-take agreement.

The most recent news from Planet Fulcrum the creation of a strategic partnership between its BP Ventures and Air BP businesses and  Fulcrum BioEnergy, into which BP will invest $30 million.

The AVAPCO, LLC ($3.7 million) project will develop a demonstration-scale integrated biorefinery that combines AVAPCO’s biomass-to-ethanol process with project partner Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet process to create an integrated process that produces jet fuel from woody biomass. In addition to the jet fuel primary product, the demonstration facility will also produce cellulosic renewable diesel and other bioproducts with another project partner, Genomatica.

The most massive sustainable aviation fuels project ever announced is a project tipped by Petrixo Oil & Gas to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel at a new refinery to be built in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Red Rock Biofuels will produce approximately three million gallons of low-carbon, renewable jet fuel per year from 2017 through 2024 for FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, in an agreement announced by the companies.

FedEx joins Southwest Airlines in purchasing Red Rock’s total available volume of jet fuel from its first commercial plant, which is scheduled to break ground this fall in Lakeview, Ore.  READ MORE

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