Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan3
Complicated Relationship Between Oil Companies, Airlines, & Biofuels — But Different In The UAE?
If you read my “Boeing Biofuel Breakthrough” article carefully, you must have noticed the bit about tar sands oil and shale oil not burning as well in airplanes. Darrin Morgan, director of sustainable aviation fuels at Boeing, noted that one nice surprise for them has been finding that biofuels, on the other hand, actually burn better.
However, Darrin noted that oil companies haven’t been keen to develop biofuels (surprise, surprise) and also don’t see the air transport market as large enough to bother trying to fix the performance problems that come with increasingly common tar sands and shale oil (or, more specifically, the chemicals that get into such oil during their production processes).
So, that’s where we left off. However, a recent email from Darrin brings to light some more interesting information:
One piece I didn’t share in our session, and is sort of the missing part of the narrative: the emerging role of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and their relationship with Etihad. Whilst the Western Integrated Oilcos are generally not helping aviation (TOTAL a big exception, but one of the few), the reality that ADNOC *are* helping, is an important element. The synergy of those two—Etihad and ADNOC—working together to make these fuels real, whilst [Masdar Institute] leads the R&D is quite unique. There isn’t another example of that—a sovereign owner of a significant part of the world’s oil, leveraging its economic and technical abilities to drive a disruptive technology that in the USA is seen as a polarizing political issue and is stalled, but in the UAE its simply about innovation…. Its why we are doing this in the UAE, and that is not something people expect.
Well, that’s pretty interesting, isn’t it?
Regarding the biofuel from halophytes program, Darrin notes: “We’ll have a couple milestones in the project coming in the next several months, and we’ll certainly relay those!”
Image Credit: oil rig via Shutterstock