The world’s first flight powered with a “green diesel” hybrid jet fuel was recently successfully completed by Boeing, according to a recent press statement.
This first test flight was completed using the company’s ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test airplane, and a 15% green-diesel/85% petroleum jet-fuel mix (in the left engine).
The “green diesel” used in the hybrid fuel is currently widely available, and utilized in many places in ground transportation technologies.
“Green diesel offers a tremendous opportunity to make sustainable aviation biofuel more available and more affordable for our customers,” explained Julie Felgar, the managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will provide data from several ecoDemonstrator flights to support efforts to approve this fuel for commercial aviation and help meet our industry’s environmental goals.”
This green diesel is produced from materials that would otherwise end up discarded as waste — used vegetable oils, waste cooking oil, and waste animal fats. Chemically speaking, previous work from Boeing determined that this fuel (once processed) is chemically similar to the HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) aviation biofuel approved a few years ago in 2011.
(To be clear, this green diesel is a different type of fuel from the biodiesel currently in common use.)
“The airplane performed as designed with the green diesel blend, just as it does with conventional jet fuel,” stated Captain Mike Carriker, Chief Pilot, Product Development and 777X, Boeing Test and Evaluation. “This is exactly what we want to see in flight tests with a new type of fuel.”
The press release provides more:
With production capacity of 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) in the US, Europe and Asia, green diesel could rapidly supply as much as 1% of global jet fuel demand. With a wholesale cost of about $3 per gallon, inclusive of US government incentives, green diesel approaches price parity with petroleum jet fuel. On a lifecycle basis, sustainably produced green diesel reduces carbon emissions by 50% to 90% compared to fossil fuel, according to Finland-based Neste Oil, which supplied green diesel for the ecoDemonstrator 787.
The recent test flight was completed in coordination with the US Federal Aviation Administration, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, and EPIC Aviation.
The work with green diesel is amongst many other initiatives that are part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator Program aboard 787 Dreamliner ZA004 — the aim of which is to accelerate the process of bringing new technologies/methods to improve “aviation’s environmental performance” to commercial readiness.
More information can be found here.
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Image: Boeing 787 by Thor Jorgen Udvang / Shutterstock.com
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