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Boeing and CSIRO form partnership for feedstock research

Boeing and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have joined forces to examine the potential for aviation biofuels’ feedstock growth in the north of the country.

The partnership comes following the release of the Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation roadmap, which recommends research into the area.

‘The roadmap made a compelling case for the development of a new Australian bio-based aviation fuel industry generating some 12,000 clean energy jobs over the next 20 years, especially in regional areas, cutting greenhouse emissions and reducing Australia’s reliance on aviation fuels imports by $2 billion (€1.62 billion) per annum,’ says Michael Edwards, general manager of Boeing Research and Technology in Australia.

CSIRO’s Deborah O’Connell will be leading the project, as she is an expert in bioenergy and sustainability. She says: ‘The Sustainable Feedstocks for Aviation Fuels programme will identify and trial new fuel sources that are compatible with existing land uses with the ultimate goal of developing commercially-viable feedstock to fuel supply chains this decade.’

Over the coming year, the first phase of the programme will be carried out, assessing new biomass production systems based on feedstocks such as grasses and short rotation trees in combination with grazing or cropping in regional Queensland.

The first phase will also assess fuel conversion technology for turning this biomass into aviation biofuels, and look at what production systems and technologies will integrate best with local infrastructure.

‘Since January 2010, Boeing has entered into sustainable aviation fuel research agreements with airlines, academic institutions and industry partners in Australia, the Middle East, China, Mexico, United States and Brazil,’ says Edwards. ‘Aviation fuels made from biomass have been certified and are being used on commercial and military aircraft, so the challenge now is to find the right way to scale up feedstock production so these new fuels are both environmentally and economically sustainable.’