which include Continental and Virgin Atlantic Airways LLC, in the newly formed Algal Biomass Organisation (ABO).
They will be the first wave of aviation-related members to join the organisation along with biofuel technology developer UOP LLC.
The airlines together with Boeing, which co-chairs the ABO, are advocating the development of new generations of fuel sources for the industry that have lower life cycle carbon emissions, which in this case is sustainable algae-based biofuels.
ABO co-chair and managing director of environmental strategy for Boeing commercial airplanes, Billy Glover, said: “There is significant interest across multiple sectors in the potential of algae as an energy source and nowhere is that more evident than in aviation.
“Air transportation is a vital contributor to global economic prosperity, but is being threatened by record rises in fuel costs. Together we recognise that algae have the potential to help offset those fuel costs, while also contributing to improved environmental performance for the aviation industry.”
Boeing and leading airlines are stepping forward to help commercialise sustainable, next-generation biofuels for use in commercial jetliners. Algae are one of the plant-based fuel sources, which are being explored.
Air New Zealand, Continental, Virgin Atlantic, Honeywell’s UOP and Boeing have pledged to work together through the ABO to generate more sustainable fuel options by pushing for long-term innovation and investment in algae as an energy source.
Air New Zealand deputy chief executive Norm Thompson said: “No one airline, research organisation or scientific group holds the key to making air travel more environmentally sustainable. It must be a collective effort across research organisations, aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel companies, refiners and airlines. Therefore, we are naturally delighted to be at the forefront of this latest effort to take aviation into a greener future.”
Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson said: “Algae really could be a solution to help airlines produce lower carbon emissions. Crucially, it is a source of fuel which doesn’t lead to deforestation or the taking away of land or water from the cultivation of essential food crops.
“Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be supporting the work of the Algal Biomass Organisation in building knowledge of this innovative new technology, and accelerating the commercialisation of algae to help produce a more sustainable aviation industry.”
UOP’s renewable energy and chemicals director Jennifer Holmgren said: “The use of algae and other second generation feedstocks are absolutely necessary to achieve long-term sustainable biofuels. The efforts of companies like Boeing, Air New Zealand, Continental and Virgin Atlantic Airways will help to bring the focus and effort that is needed to ultimately make these resources a commercial reality.”
Multiple biomass sources including algae, jatropha, halophytes are being evaluated against stringent sustainability criteria including non-competition with food, fresh water or land-use resources.
The group’s involvement in the ABO highlights the aviation industry’s move toward identification, development and certification of advanced generation fuel sources. Working with refining segment leaders like UOP will help ensure that advanced generation biofuels can be produced in the most sustainable and energy efficient manner possible.
Unlike other second-generation biofuel options, algae will require technological breakthroughs to become viable and the ABO will provide a single, collective voice regarding ongoing efforts.
Algae have shown significant potential to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as climate and pollution concerns including carbon emission reductions, alternative fuel sources and global economic development. As one of the fastest growing and most productive plants in the world, the unique characteristics of algae can be developed for a number of uses:
Algae are an ideal low cost, renewable and environmentally progressive raw material that can be converted into biofuels. They can grow rapidly (doubling in biomass in as little as a few hours), require limited nutrients and are able to deliver up to 2,000-5,000 gallons of fuel per acre of non-arable land annually.
Algae do not require fresh water to thrive and so they will not compete for limited supplies of fresh water. In addition, they are also used to clean wastewater and to recycle greenhouse gases. As the algae grow, they can be harvested and converted to next- generation biofuels.
As developing nations continue to look for ways to spur economic development, algae-based industries can be a central part of an overall strategy. Many developing nations currently import nearly 100% of their fuel. An algae-based energy strategy provides a way to either reduce oil import costs, create fuel/feedstock export
The Algal Biomass Organisation (ABO), a non-profit organisation established by 400 leading algae experts, aims to promote and advocate for the development of commercially-viable transportation and power generation fuels as well as other non-energy applications for algae biomass.