Honeywell's UOP Joins Aviation and Academic Leaders to Accelerate Biofuel Use

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group makes commercial aviation the first global transportation sector to voluntarily drive verifiable sustainability practices into its fuel supply chain.


DES PLAINES, IL -- UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced today that it has joined a group of leading air carriers and Boeing to accelerate the development and commercialization of sustainable new aviation fuels.

With support and advice from world leading environmental organizations, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group makes commercial aviation the first global transportation sector to voluntarily drive verifiable sustainability practices into its fuel supply chain.

The group's charter is to enable the commercial use of renewable fuel sources that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation's exposure to oil price volatility and dependence on fossil fuels. Airlines supporting the sustainable fuels initiative include Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Collectively, they account for approximately 15 percent of commercial jet fuel use.

"We welcome the aviation sector's will to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and appreciate their efforts to ensure the sustainability of their biofuels sourcing," says Jean-Philippe Denruyter, WWF Global Bioenergy Coordinator and Steering Board Member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. "By teaming up with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, the aviation sector can build on an existing solid multi-stakeholder process that will reinforce this initiative."

All group members subscribe to a sustainability pledge stipulating that any sustainable biofuel must perform as well as, or better than, kerosene-based fuel, but with a smaller carbon lifecycle. The user's group pledged to consider only renewable fuel sources that minimize biodiversity impacts: fuels that require minimal land, water and energy to produce, and that don't compete with food or fresh water resources. In addition, cultivation and harvest of plant stocks must provide socioeconomic value to the local communities.

"The use of second-generation feedstocks is the only way that biofuels will successfully make an impact on the growing demand for transportation fuels without taxing valuable food, land and water resources," said Jennifer Holmgren, general manager for UOP's Renewable Energy & Chemicals unit. "We are proud to be a part of this team and are committed to commercializing biofuels technologies that use second generation resources to produce the highest quality fuel compatible with today's infrastructure and aircraft technology."

The group has announced two initial sustainability research projects. Assistant Professor Rob Bailis of Yale University's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, through funding provided by Boeing, will conduct the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive sustainability assessment of jatropha curcas, to include lifecycle CO2 emissions and the socioeconomic impacts to farmers in developing nations. Similarly, NRDC will conduct a comprehensive assessment of algae to ensure it meets the group's stringent sustainability criteria.

Both species may potentially become part of a portfolio of biomass based renewable fuel solutions that, through advanced fuel processing methodologies developed by energy sector leaders such as UOP, can help aviation diversify its fuel supply.

"This taskforce comes at just the right time to help airlines cut costs and decrease their greenhouse gas emissions," says Liz Barratt-Brown, NRDC senior attorney. "If done right, sustainable biofuels could lower the airlines' carbon footprint at a time when all industries need to be moving away from fuels with high levels of global warming pollution."

UOP, a leading developer of refining technology, has already developed process technology to convert natural oils and greases to military jet fuel as part of a project funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The process technology produces "green" jet fuel that is a drop-in replacement for traditional kerosene-based jet fuel and meets all the critical performance specifications for flight. This technology is also viable for use in the production of jet fuel for commercial jets.

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