- THE MAGAZINE
Boeing has identified "green diesel," a renewable fuel used in ground transportation, as a significant new source of sustainable aviation biofuel that emits at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel over its lifecycle. The company is working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders to gain approval for aircraft to fly on green diesel, further reducing the aviation industry's carbon emissions.
Green diesel, also called "renewable diesel," can be used in any diesel engine. It is chemically different and a different product than the fuel known as "biodiesel."
Boeing researchers performed analysis that found green diesel, which is made from oils and fats, to be chemically similar to today's aviation biofuel. If approved, the fuel could be blended directly with traditional jet fuel.
"Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel," said Dr. James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division. "We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry's reliance on fossil fuel."
Significant green diesel production capacity already exists in the U.S., Europe and Singapore that could supply as much as 1 percent - about 600 million gallons - of global commercial jet fuel demand. The wholesale cost – about $3 a gallon with U.S. government incentives – is competitive with petroleum jet fuel.
Boeing, the F.A.A., engine manufacturers, green diesel producers and others are now compiling a detailed research report that will be submitted to key stakeholders in the fuel approvals process. These efforts follow Boeing's leadership in working with the aviation community in 2011 to include a blend of up to 50 percent aviation biofuel in international jet fuel specifications. Biofuel approved for aviation must meet or exceed stringent jet fuel performance requirements.
"Boeing wants to establish new pathways for sustainable jet fuel, and this green diesel initiative is a groundbreaking step in that long journey," said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration. "To support our customers, industry and communities, Boeing will continue to look for opportunities to reduce aviation's environmental footprint."