Flight plan: 14 practical steps towards commercial aviation biofuels now

June 28, 2013 |



1. Improve feedstock production capacity through agricultural innovation. Identify and promote potential additional biofuel production capacity generated by increased yield due to breeding and innovative planting such as crop rotations, and double and cover cropping with crops such as camelina, which can be produced between food crop rotations.

2. Tailor feedstocks to jet fuel. Develop advanced feedstocks tailored for jet fuel production, including the development of an oil seed crop with chemical properties predisposed for jet fuel production.

3. Investigate the impacts of uncertainty on production. Investigate the effects of uncertain conditions, such as changing policy, weather, seasonal intermittency, and co-products on the techno-economic performance of conversion technologies.


4. Advance technologies to convert lignocellulosic biomass. Biomass made up of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose (wood, residue biomass such as corn stover) is a very large-volume sustainable feedstock source. Increase investment in bio/catalytic pathways to produce jet fuels from depolymerized biomass, cellulosic sugars, or simple alcohols.

The Digest’s Take.

The progress has been impressive on yields and crop establishment — particularly with jatropha and carinata. Over at SGB, they believe they have the economics lined up for $99 per barrel crude jatropha oils. More R&D is underway — and crops such as algae and camelina are of special interest — while the DOE is focused on fostering technologies that focus on aviation biofuels.

Notable milestones to date

The Old Switcheroothe “now” of cellulosic biofuels vs “five years away” in oil & gas

Soak up the Sun: The USDA invests $25M in new fuel-focused, crop-based technologies. It’s showtime for drop-in fuels, oils in a wave of USDA co-investments — and a shift in philosophy to from “Make New” to “Make Do”.

Jatropha Loves to Fly and It Shows. It is becoming increasingly evident that, in the near-term, acute demand for aviation biofuel is going, one way or another, to result in heavy demand for jatropha and jatropha oil-based fuels. New deals for SGB in Brazil are confirming the trend.

ARPA-E unveils Project PETRO ARPA-E aims to unleash new plants that recover more sunshine and produce more fuels. Specifically, a program titled “Plants Engineered To Replace Oil (PETRO)”. If successful, PETRO will create biofuels for half their current cost, finally making them cost-competitive with fuels from oil.

Cobalt, Mercurius, BioProcess Algae, Frontline land $17.7M in military biofuels grants. Pilot-scale biorefineries for drop-in military diesel, jet fuel the focus of the DOE’s latest grant round.

In today’s Digest we explore more of MASBI’s 14 practical steps to accelerate aviation biofuels to commercialization — and the state of play in production, financing, policy and sustainability. Lots of charts on costs, approval pathways, waiting times, financing and feedstock availability. Plus, links to the full MASBI report and the executive summary, by visiting the page links below.

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