Boeing today said it has teamed up with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) to turn waste cooking oil, commonly referred to as "gutter oil" in China, into sustainable aviation biofuel.
The companies said they will build a demonstration facility-- called the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project -- to clean contaminants from waste oils and convert it into jet fuel at a rate of 160 gallons (650 liters) per day. The project's goal is to assess the technical feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes of biofuel. The companies estimate that 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of biofuel could be made annually in China from used cooking oil.
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Biofuel produced by the project will meet international specifications approved in 2011 for jet fuel made from plant oils and animal fats. This type of biofuel has already been used for more than 1,600 commercial flights, according to Boeing.
The idea of using cooking oils as aviation biofuels is not a new one. Recently Finland’s largest airline used cooking oil-based biofuel to drive the engines of an Airbus A330 aircraft on a nine-hour demonstration flight from Helsinki to New York. It was the airline’s inaugural transatlantic flight using a fuel mix containing the type of oil used to fry fish, chips or chicken, according to a report by The Daily Mail.
While its not oil-based fuel, Southwest airlines recently said they would begin testing flights with biofuels made from “woody biomass feedstock” on some flights.
According to the DallasNews site, Southwest airlines recently said it has agreed to buy about 3 million gallons of jet fuel a year from Red Rock Biofuels. The Fort Collins, Colo., firm focuses on converting organic materials into biofuels.
According to Boeing, sustainably produced biofuel, which reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80% compared to petroleum through its lifecycle, is expected to play a key role in supporting aviation's growth while meeting environmental goals.
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