Biofuel Alternatives to Jet A

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Business aviation plays an important role in the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, a series of government-industry partnerships designed to identify and implement environmental technologies aimed toward building on the operating efficiency of commercial turbine-powered aircraft. One prominent example of this work is the industry’s significant progress toward adopting viable and efficient, "drop-in" renewable-source alternatives to petroleum-based Jet A.

In 2013, NBAA joined with other industry groups and government stakeholders to launch the "Farm to Fly 2.0" initiative, which is aimed at developing viable, sustainable biofuel fuel supply chains in the U.S. to support an annual production goal of 1 billion gallons of alternative-sourced Jet A for aviation use by 2018. NBAA also is one of more than 300 members of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which is dedicated to demonstrating the aviation industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship by creating a carbon-neutral air fleet by the year 2020.

To date, alternative jet-fuel blending agents for commercial flight have utilized feedstocks from plants, plant and animal oils, biogas or biomass and conversion of sugars derived directly from plants or from hydrolyzed biomass. Future sources of these blending agents include other oils, sugars, cellulose and industrial waste.

Depending on the feedstock and approved conversion methodology, the resulting fuel is often blended with conventional Jet A (ranging from a 10- to 50-percent mix) to produce drop-in alternative fuels, though successful tests have also been conducted using 100-percent biofuel alternatives to Jet A.  

Once approved, these alternative fuels require no changes to maintenance and operating practices, or flight crew training procedures. Tests conducted by industry stakeholders, including manufacturers of business aircraft and engines, also have demonstrated improvements to fuel burn, and notably reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.

Latest News About Development of Alternatives to Jet A

Removing Barriers to Sustainable Fuels Adoption
July 9, 2018
Make no mistake: jet fuels derived from renewable energy sources aren’t a far-off dream. Multiple technology paths exist to produce such fuels, and innumerable test flights over the past decade have consistently demonstrated their equal performance to conventional Jet A. Lowering costs and increasing choices will make sustainable alternatives to jet fuel an easier option. Learn more about this topic in the July/August 2018 issue of Business Aviation Insider magazine, NBAA's Technology Issue

The Future of Fuel: Going Beyond Jet A and 100LL
July 6, 2015
Alternative fuels continue to be the focus of research and development throughout the aviation industry, but for all the progress that's been made, the cost of potential replacement fuels continues to be a hurdle. Business aviation, however, plays a vital role in efforts to introduce alternatives. "Commercial, business and military aviation are working hand-in-hand to help stand up this new industrial sector," said Steve Csonka, executive director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, of which NBAA is a part. "We're all in this together." The future of fuels is the top story in the July/August issue of Business Aviation Insider, which is mailing to print subscribers now. Members may also download the latest issue in the new mobile app for iPad and Android tablets. Read the full story.

NBAA Joins In Launching 'Farm to Fly' 2.0
April 18, 2013
NBAA has joined with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to launch a new initiative aimed at furthering the development of a jet fuel that is not only a renewable resource, but is also completely free of carbon pollutants. “Farm to Fly 2.0” builds on efforts to develop a biofuel for jets that requires no major aircraft engine modifications. Learn more about Farm to Fly 2.0.

Senate Strikes Restrictions on Military Biofuels Development
Dec. 3, 2012
The U.S. Senate last week struck down restrictions on Department of Defense research into alternative aviation fuel sources, a move strongly supported by NBAA and 12 other aviation groups. The 67-32 vote removes language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prevented the military from purchasing biofuels if they cost more than petroleum. The full legislation containing the language must still be passed by the Senate, then be reconciled with its counterpart bill passed by the House of Representatives before it is submitted to President Obama for final approval. Read more about the NDAA.

Falcon Jet Makes History by Flying on 100 Percent Biofuel
Nov. 19, 2012
A Dassault Falcon 20 has achieved an aviation and renewable-energy milestone by becoming the world’s first civil jet to be powered by 100-percent biofuel. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), a government research and development organization, said it flew the Falcon over Ottawa, Canada, during a one-hour flight on Oct. 29. The Falcon’s two General Electric CF700-2D2 turbofan engines consumed ReadiJet, an unblended biofuel. Earlier biofuel flights by other civil aircraft used a mix of alternative fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel. Read more about this flight and potential uses for pure alternative biofuels.

BAI Feature Story: Honeywell Makes History with First Biofueled Flight
Sept - Oct 2011
At dusk on June 18 in Morristown, NJ, N922H taxied from the ramp onto the active runway. The red and white Gulfstream G450 lined up at the departure end and, with a roar of its powerful engines, took off on a flight to Paris, France. Sound like an everyday business flight across the Atlantic? Not this trip. Honeywell made history that day, when the company's transatlantic business-aircraft flight became the first to be powered in part by biofuel. Learn more about this historic transatlantic flight utilizing a biofuel blend.

Alternative Fuels Resources

FAA Resource Page - Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels
Commercial aviation faces fuel cost, environmental and energy security challenges that arise from petroleum-based jet fuel use. Sustainable alternative jet fuels can help to address these challenges. Their use could reduce emissions that affect air quality and the global climate while expanding domestic energy sources that diversify fuel supplies, contribute to price and supply stability, and generate economic development in rural communities. Read more about the FAA’s ongoing research and support for alternatives to Jet A.

CAAFI - The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative
CAAFI seeks to enhance energy security and environmental sustainability for aviation through alternative jet fuels. CAAFI is a coalition that focuses the efforts of commercial aviation to engage the emerging alternative-fuels industry. It enables its diverse participants - representing all the leading stakeholders in the field of aviation - to build relationships, share and collect data, identify resources, and direct research, development and deployment of alternative jet fuels. Learn more about this joint industry effort to adopt and utilize viable biofuels.