Look, up in the Sky! The best of the aviation biofuels slides from ABLC 2015

March 29, 2015 |

superman-planeGreat Scott! New molecules, new feedstocks, new technologies, and reaching scale — the best of the best.

At ABLC 2015, the focus on innovation included a complete program on aviaiton — and numerous producers elsewhere on the program are producing aviation biofuels as a party of an overall strategy including multiple products.

From the annual bioeconomy leadership conference in Washington DC, we have selected slides presented by the Federal Aviation Administration, Amyris, Byogy, United Airlines, Vertimass, World Fuel Services, The FAA’s ASCENT supply chain project, Red Rock Biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy, CAAFI, and Mercurius Biofuels.

Which programs are enablers? Who are the lowest cost suppliers? What processing pathways are being certified?  What are the most promising feedstocks? What about offtake? What are airlines doing? Who is investing in what, where and why?

Here are selections from 11 of the hottest slides presented at ABLC.



The multi-product protfolio is on view with this Amyris slide that outlines a pathway for $1B in company revemues by 2020, including the TOTAL/Amyris JV for aviation jet fuel, known as “Jetplus” (Fly More, Emit Less). Amyris says the marlet needs “higher performance at a competitive price”.



In this slide, Byogy highlights a stargey to move from agave all the way to a finished $2 aviation biofuel — the key is agave producing sugars as low as $0.05 per pound, or less than half the global sugar price. Hence the compamy’s work with AusAgave.

United Airlines


United focused in on the status of its AltAir project, which is “nearing mechanical completion and expects to be producing fuel in mid-2015”. United tipped that it is finalizing plans for mid-2015 launch out of LAX, with a kick-off event at LAX to “celebrate the inaugural flight of United’s regularly scheduled flights on biofuel from the airport.”



Remarkable yields from ethanol are the focus for Vertimass, which expects to use ethanol as a feedstock and ultimately yield 31% from the original sugar and 60% from the ethanol molecule — with a technology that removes excess oxygen from ethanol, and transforms it into a jet fuel hydrocarbon, by removing water — dehydrating ethanol. Given that ethanol is selling in the open market at $1.45 per gallon, if you see an opportunity for the raw material around $2.40 per gallon, you’re spot on, even allowing for the ethanol producer’s mark-up. That’s a big step towards $3.00 per gallon aviation biofuels at scale — and ethanol is certainly available, and at scale.

World Fuel Services


In this slide, Bob Sturtz highlighted World Fuels Services ability to offer a “comprehensive portfolio of fuel supply, logistics, credit, financing, price risk management and transaction management services,” which includes assistting fuel producers in obtaining financing.

The FAA’s ASCENT supply chain project


In this slide FAA’s Dr. James Hileman outlined the ASCENT Alternative Jet Fuel Supply Chain Project, which takes on “barriers to alternative jet fuel production via thefull range of pathways being considered for ASTM approval” and provides “a holistic evaluation of pathways and resources” while developing “scenarios of alternative jet fuel production” and considering the “entire supply chain.”

Red Rock Biofuels


Red Rock outlined the project details for its 15 million gallon first commercial, for which construction is expected to start this year, which will produce drop-in aviaiyon biofuels as well as diesel and naphtha fuels.

Fulcrum BioEnergy


Fulcrum is in the midst of developing its first commercial plant, in Nevada — 10 million gallon capacity — but outlined at ABLC 2015 a strategy to reach 300 million gallons in capacity at as many as 7 locations, tightly integrrated with aviation huns such as Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and the New York metro area.



The portfolio approach of multiple feedstocks and conversion processes — that’s the takeaway from this CAAFI slide on the activity in aviation biofuels seen as a whole. Though the portfolio approach requires multiple developments — it’s believed to offer the best “let’s not pick winners” approach to technology development — and “all of the above” development strategy that currently includes HDCJ, FT-SKA, SAK and SK, Aand ATJ fuels, plus co-processsing strategies — including multiple players such as Gevo, LanzaTech, Byogy, SASOL, Phillips, KiOR/UOP, VIrent and many more.

Mercurius Biofuels


Here’s an ultra-low cost pathway worth following. Costs of $1.62 per gallon including capex — that’s Mercurius’s remarkable conclusion from its pilot-scal operations to date.

Jason Bergtold, Kansas State University


Dr. Bergtold addressed “Farmers willingness to produce alternative bioenergy feedstocks that can be used for bio-jet fuel production,” and in this slide revealed that even without specific insurance, the probability to produce oilseeds for biojet would spike were the net returns above wheat production to rise above $20 per acre.

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