Participating companies pave runway for development of renewable jet fuels and global aviation
Flying high on sugarcane may once have been little more than the lyric to a song. Not any longer.
Yesterday, Azul Brazilian Airlines, working in partnership with Amyris Inc., Embraer, and GE completed a demonstration flight using jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane. The Embraer E195 jet operated by Azul departed from Campinas Viracopos Airport, flew over Rio de Janeiro, host city to the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20), before landing at Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport.
Known as Azul+Verde (“a greener blue” in Portuguese), this project was launched in 2009 with the objective of evaluating the development of a renewable jet fuel that might reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Azul’s commitment to reducing our dependency on volatile petroleum products goes beyond reducing our costs. The main objective is to innovate in our service offerings, using the best technologies to reduce our carbon footprint as well as raise awareness among our customers that they are not just choosing an airline that is merely concerned about the environment but is taking steps to preserve it,” said Flavio Costa, COO of Azul Airlines.
A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE), indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82 percent compared to fossil-derived jet fuel.
“Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance,” said John Melo, president & CEO of Amyris, in a press announcement. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and allow us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals.”
The sugarcane fuel, referred to as AMJ 700, is produced using modified microorganisms that convert sugar into a renewable hydrocarbon. The renewable jet fuel must still be approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
“Developed as drop-in, the renewable jet fuel did not require any modification or adaptation in the aircraft for the demonstration flight,” said Mauro Kern, Executive Vice President for Technology & Engineering at Embraer. “The tests undertaken by Embraer with Amyris’s renewable jet fuel in Brazil were a success. This confirms the potential performance of this renewable fuel, whether on technical or environmental grounds.”
Ground tests were conducted at GE’s engine testing facility in Ohio earlier this year.
Azul’s team believes there will be a minimal food impact from growing sugarcane in Brazil. “Azul greatly believes in Amyris technology. Brazil has abundant arable land, which allows for the growing of sugarcane in ways that do not displace other crops, such as food,” says Adalberto Febeliano, Azul director of institutional relations. “We expect that it will be possible to adopt this renewable fuel in commercial flights in the medium term, with a large-scale production economically viable.”
Photo: Globe Newswire