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BA, Bombardier Announce Biofuel Plans at Farnborough

British Airways has signed an agreement with Solena Group to help build Europe’s first biofuel plant, amid plans to begin using the fuel in its fleet starting in 2014, according to a Dow Jones Report. The announcement was made at the Farnborough Air Show.

Solena Group, a U.S. renewable energy company, will help build the plant which will convert landfill waste into the low-carbon-intensity fuel, helping the British aviation company to lower its carbon footprint. BA has said it is targeting a 50 percent reduction in its emissions by 2050.

Also at Farnborough, Bombardier Aerospace announced plans to fly a Q400 aircraft using fuel from an oilseed crop as part of a new biofuel test program. The program objective is to optimize production and establish performance standards for refined camelina oil as a drop-in replacement for jet fuel that fits with the current refining and distribution infrastructure and with existing engines.

Camelina provides benefits over traditional petroleum fuel because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent, reduces sulphur dioxide (SO2) and is not competitive with food production because it can be grown in rotation with wheat and on marginal land.

European aerospace and defense company EADS, meanwhile, announced that it is aggressively pursuing biofuel technology in an effort to make the aviation industry completely carbon neutral one day. EADS owns Airbus. The company recently flew the first aircraft powered entirely by algae-based biofuel at the Berlin Air Show last month.

EADS said it is pursuing an algae biofuel solution, which it says holds several advantages over other forms of biofuel, such as those derived from corn or other food products. Like carmelina, algae does not compete for agriculture space, the company said. Oil-producing algae also consume high quantities of carbon dioxide, making it a potentially attractive source of carbon offsets. Also like carmelina, it can also be combined with kerosene supplies for use in existing engines without the need for retrofitting.

EADS’ Chief Technology Officer said he would like to see 10 percent of the Airbus fleet run on algae-derived fuel by 2030.

Currently, biofuel remains significantly more expensive than current kerosene production methods, since it is produced in only small quantities. But that may change soon as the technology reaches a critical mass, according to a MarketWatch report.

Airbus also said it is working on new air traffic management systems which would allow aircraft to fly closer to one another without increasing the risk of a collision. This would decrease delays and increase overall fuel efficiency. Airbus said 10 percent of its efforts to double the fuel efficiency of its fleet will come from improved ATM systems.

Solazyme recently delivered 1,500 gallons of biofuel to the U.S. Navy for use in its jets as part of a test program.

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