Canada Moves Closer To Mass Adoption Of Biojet

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

Air Canada’s announcement that it will use 400,000 liters of sustainable aviation biofuel (biojet) at Montréal-Trudeau Airport is much more significant than the amount of fuel being used.


“To date, the majority of biojet has been used in direct to wing fueling. The significance of this project is that it will go upstream into the co-mingled fuel storage system. This will reduce delivered costs and make the widespread adoption of biojet more economically feasible and operationally efficient,” said Fred J. Ghatala of the Waterfall Group, one of the 14 stakeholder organizations in Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI).

Other participants in the program include: Air Canada, ASCENT (US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels & Environment at Washington State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), BioFuelNet, Boeing, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), International Air Transport Association (IATA), McGill University, National Research Council, Queen’s University, SkyNRG, Transport Canada, and the University of Toronto.

Though current specifications allow for blends to use up to 50% biojet, this would be much less in a shared facility.

“The percentage of biojet delivered to each airplane receiving the fuel would be below 10%. It would be relatively small, depending on the amount of fuel that is in the storage tank at that time,” said Ghatala.

The CBSCI is a three year project, which has tentatively set a target of going operational in the second quarter of 2017.Fred J. Ghatala of the Waterfall Group

To Create An Operational Familiarity

“This project is intended to create operational familiarity with upstream blending in an airport,” said Ghatala.

Biojet is already being blended in the shared fuel facility at Oslo’s airport, in Norway, and Los Angeles airport is progressing with co-mingling.

“Even though this is occurring in other airports, it is important that (it also) occurs in Canada so that the participating airports, airlines and fuel consortiums have experience with it. So that in the future, this can become business as usual,” said Ghatala.

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport by Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon via Wikipedia (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Emissions Targets

“In aviation, which has been exclusively reliant on fossil fuels, the targets they have set up for carbon neutral growth, beginning in 2020 and a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 (relative to 2005 levels), require that renewables become an established and permanent part of their fuel mix going forward.”

A 1% adoption of biojet should be sufficient to meet the 2020 target of zero emissions growth. By 2030, this will require a 7% inclusion.

“These numbers start out small, but as the industry is expected to grow, the carbon emission reduction requirements will also need to grow,” said Ghatala.

“The industry has made marked progress in increasing efficiency of airlines, engine design, and improved electrification, but at a certain point carbon has to be removed from the fuels they are combusting. That is what this project is intending to do.”

Photo Credits: Several parked planes at dusk at Montréal-Trudeau By abdallahh from Montréal, Canada  via Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0); Fred J. Ghatala of the Waterfall Group; Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport by Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon via Wikipedia (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales

16 thoughts on “Canada Moves Closer To Mass Adoption Of Biojet

  • Announced on the same day as a new Pacific pipeline to export over half a million new barrels per day of tar sand crude. Can’t tell what Canada is thinking with this bio jet.

    • Are you talking about the Northern Gateway pipeline?

      If so, I thought it was just approved by the NEB which was always expected to be a rubber stamp type deally.

      Cabinet will still have to approve the pipeline for it to go forward.

  • “Biojet”…what is it made of?

    • It’s essentially a special form of biodiesel as far as I can tell

    • Typically begins with a plant with oily nuts or seeds. The conversion efficiency of sunlight to mechanical energy is always terrible in these schemes. Like 0.0001 of the solar energy actually comes out in turning the turbine. May even be energy negative for all the diesel used in the agriculture and processing.

      • When you look at it “well to wheel”, so to speak, it makes integrating high speed rail into inter-regional transportation systems sound very practical. There are times when aviation can allow a lot of flexibility per destinations into a transport network, but once rail lines are in place, sustainably generated electricity is probably much more energy efficient.
        Maybe long term research into either algae or electrofuels will change that equation. Today’s feedstock and conversion processes probably are best for providing enough fuel to get this head start on “providing operational familiarity.”

      • Neste makes bio synthetic fuel from plant oils, it is NOT biodiesel.

  • Or so they hope. The pathways proposed all remain atrocious as far as sunlight to turbine-shaft energy conversion efficiency. Better approach: invent inexpensive water electrolysis to make hydrogen from PV energy and then make syn jet from any carbon source like waste biomass at 1000x better efficiency.

    • Let’s get some research going on how to break the laws of physics.

      That’s the ticket.

      • Huh?

        • Here’s what you said we should do.

          “Better approach: invent inexpensive water electrolysis to make hydrogen from PV energy”

          Electrolysis is already about as efficient as it could be. The only way to lower the cost would be to find a way around the energy required to break the hydrogen/oxygen bond.

          • Ahh I see. “Electrolysis is as efficient as it could be” – only if one assumes that electricity is the only cost. In real-life, the cost of electrolyzed hydrogen is capital equipment, labor, repairs/ maintenance, etc plus some for electricity. The equipment ( catalysts, etc) is very expensive. So much so that when you read up on people trying to make numbers work, they’re assuming 24/7 operation to minimize capital and depreciation costs and it still doesn’t work well. Cut the capital costs by 90% and game changed. Less capital plus, importantly, run the plant at times of cheap electricity.

            Cutting the cost of hydrogen electrolysis equipment would be huge to facilitate renewable energy in many ways. Needs R&D on different catalysts, etc.

    • The cost of Synfuel production is going down very rapidly as the plant efficiency and the conversion efficiency grows. What is needed now is mass deployment.

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