Boeing and Canadian Aviation Will Convert Forestry Waste to Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel

Boeing and Canada’s aviation industry plan to turn leftover branches, sawdust and other forest-industry waste into jet fuel.

A consortium that includes Boeing, Air Canada, WestJet, Bombardier, research institutions and industry partners will review whether this same forest waste could be harnessed to produce sustainable aviation biofuel.

A Boeing-funded 2015 study found that aviation biofuel made from forest waste could produce about 46 million gallons, or 175 million litres of jet fuel, which is 10 percent of British Columbia’s annual jet fuel demand.

“Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy & Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Canada is in a terrific position to leverage its sustainable forests to make environmental progress for its aviation industry and other transport sectors.”

“Air Canada believes that developing a reliable supply of sustainable aviation biofuel in Canada will play a role in achieving our emission reduction goals,” said Teresa Ehman, Director, Environmental Affairs, Air Canada. “By utilizing Canada’s strong forestry research expertise and the knowledge of industry collaborators, this project will contribute significantly to understanding the viability of forest residue-sourced biofuel.”

“WestJet has invested billions of dollars in fleet renewal to reduce our fuel consumption and to ensure we are doing our part towards responsible growth and environmental sustainability,” said Geoff Tauvette, Director of Fuel and Environment, WestJet. “WestJet’s social responsibility mandate is to extend our culture of caring beyond our aircraft doors and we are proud to support initiatives such as these that reduce our carbon footprint through the research, development and production of aviation biofuels in Canada.”

The project was announced during the 2015 Canadian Bioeconomy Conference in Vancouver, and was recently awarded funding by the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) of Canada as part of a portfolio of investments in technologies which could reduce aviation’s carbon footprint.

This project could also supply biofuel to ground and marine vehicles, which, the study finds, could save about 1 million tons of CO2 emissions per year on a life cycle basis across the transportation sector.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using sustainably produced biofuel reduces life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to conventional petroleum fuel.

Boeing has active biofuel projects on six continents, including in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Middle East, South Africa and Southeast Asia, as part of its commitment to the environment and to long-term sustainable growth for commercial aviation.

Marisa Garcia

After working for sixteen years in aviation, specializing in aircraft interiors design and aviation safety equipment, and getting hands-on with aircraft cabins in hangars around the world, Marisa Garcia turned her expertise into industry insight. She has been reporting on aviation matters since 2014. Every day, she's putting words to work.

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