At Rio+20, the biofuels industry takes a turn in the spotlight

June 20, 2012 |

Azul, Embraer, GE, Amyris, KLM, Honeywell’s UOP, Aeromexico, GOL, WWF, GBEP and Novozymes showcase new advanced biofuels technologies, perspectives.

In Brazil, the Rio+20 sustainable development conference is now well underway, with side events also drawing in the crowds as NGOs, governments and industrial voices all struggle to be heard.

Biofuels take flight

One of the notable features of the week has been the biofuels-powered flights.

In the Netherlands, KLM undertook what it described as “the world’s longest biofuel-powered flight to day, flying from Amsterdam to Rio in celebration of Rio+20.” The used cooking oil-based fuel was supplied by SkyNRG. Companies such as Ahold, Heineken, Accenture, DSM, Philips, Nike and Schiphol Group have also joined the KLM BioFuel programme.

Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Secretary General, Raymond Benjamin, traveled from the G20 meetings in Mexico City to São Paulo, on a flight operated by Aeroméxico Airlines on a Boeing 777, using Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced from jatropha and camelina, both inedible plants. A connecting flight, operated by GOL Airlines on a Boeing 737 commercial aircraft, used Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced from used cooking oil and inedible corn oil, traveling the short hop from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro.  Each flight used a 50/50 blend of Honeywell Green Jet Fuel with petroleum-based jet fuel.

In a further demonstration, Azul Brazilian Airlines, in partnership with Amyris, Embraer and GE (NYSE:GE), made a demonstration flight today using Amyris’ renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane. The Embraer E195 jet operated by Azul departed from Campinas Viracopos Airport, flew over Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20) this week, and landed at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport.

A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82%, when compared to convention fossil-derived jet fuel.

“Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance,” said John Melo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Amyris. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and allow us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals,” Melo concluded.

This fuel, referred to as AMJ 700, is made using modified microorganisms that function as living factories, converting sugar into pure renewable hydrocarbon. Such a process results in a renewable jet fuel that, once approved, will meet the most rigorous requirements of the aviation industry as well as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

More on the historic KLM flight.

WWF study points attention towards residues as biofuels feedstock

Away from the Rio+20 debate halls, but mindful of the timing (with Novozymes heavily engaged down at Rio+20), a a study published today by WWF with support from Novozymes, found that “Advanced biofuels from crop wastes are a “cleaner and greener” alternative to fossil fuels and conventional biofuels, but more research is needed to specify how much waste can be sustainably used.” The report is “Smart Use of Residues”, and prompted Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office, to comment:

“Advanced biofuels produced from agricultural residues have a role to play in cutting our greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, and they need strong EU support. Ambitious EU action on advanced biofuels would also help relieve concerns over indirect land use change effects that increase greenhouse gas emissions and compete for productive land resources or with food production.”

Lars Christian Hansen, President Region Europe at Novozymes, added:

“The technology is now available to turn agricultural residues into advanced biofuels. This represents an opportunity for Europe to lead in the decarbonisation of the transport sector globally while creating green growth and jobs in Europe. But we need to do it right from the beginning. This study represents a first step in this direction. Policy-makers need to take over and support advanced biofuels while guaranteeing their sustainability.”

More on WWF study

Global Bioenergy Partnership

In a two-day meeting at Rio, the GBEP Steering Committee “welcomed the commitment of GBEP Partners and Observers in implementing the recently agreed GBEP sustainability indicators for bioenergy at the national level and through pilot projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America towards the promotion of a vibrant, sustainable bioenergy sector.”

“Twenty years after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, two billion people still don’t have access to electricity and clean water. Concerted efforts to improve access to reliable, affordable, efficient and clean energy services, preferably from renewable sources, must lie at the heart of the mission of sustainable development. GBEP believes that modern bioenergy can make a valuable contribution to sustainable development”, said Corrado Clini, GBEP Chair and Minister of Italy’s Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, in the Steering Committee meeting which concluded the series of GBEP events yesterday.

Ambassador Mariangela Rebuá, Director of the Department of Energy of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil and GBEP Co-Chair added: “To decide the future we want, one thing is clear: next generations’ future is one that will need more energy, and specially bioenergy. We can meet the challenge in a sustainable way, with social inclusion, sustained economic growth, and less pressure on the environment. Bioenergy can play a crucial role, with good examples of public policies that combine the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental”

Code REDD forest campaign launches

Also at Rio+20, the Code REDD campaign launched, an “emergency action campaign to save the threatened forests of the world,” designed to motivate corporate leaders to save the threatened forests of the world, by dramatically increasing the demand for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) emission reductions. Code REDD enables corporations to reduce their effective carbon footprint by buying Verified Emissions Reductions from high quality REDD projects that stop deforestation, protect biodiversity, and create unprecedented sustainable development for forest communities.

More on Code REDD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Top Stories

Thank you for visting the Digest.