Qantas said it will operate Australia’s first commercial flights powered by a blend of converted cooking oil and conventional jet fuel starting April 13, on a Sydney-Adelaide return service operated by an Airbus A330.
The aircraft – which can carry about 300 passengers – will use the 50-50 mix in one of its two engines. Qantas engineers will monitor the engine running on standard aviation gas against the biofuel, Adelaide Now said.
The fuel has been fully certified for use in commercial aviation and endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund. Its life cycle carbon footprint is about 60 percent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel, Qantas said.
According to the Herald Sun, the two U.S. companies that Qantas has been working with to develop a biofuel production plant for Australia, Solena and Solyzene, are not suppliers for the flight. Instead, Qantas will import a biofuel mix made by the Dutch firm SkyNRG. The company supplied the biofuel mix that powered a Lufthansa aircraft over a domestic German passenger route from July 2011 to January of this year.
Last year, Qantas worked with Solena to investigate the $312 million construction of a commercial waste biofuel plant, fed by food scraps, grass and tree cuttings, and agricultural and industrial waste. The Solena biofuel process was estimated to contribute a lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 percent over fossil-fuel derived kerosene.
Qantas’ head of environment John Valastro said the primary goal of the flights was to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia. But the industry needs public and private sector investment for production to reach commercial scale at competitive prices, Valastro said.