Boeing has made an ambitious commitment that its new commercial aircraft will be able to fly on 100% “sustainable” aviation fuel by 2030, an achievement Boeing describes as essential to meeting industrywide carbon reduction goals by 2050.
The Chicago-based airplane manufacturer says it continues to study other carbon-reducing technologies, such as hybrid-electric and hydrogen propulsion systems.
However, it describes sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which includes biofuel, as the prime means by which the sector can reach IATA’s goal of, by 2050, cutting airline emissions to half of 2005 levels.
“Our industry and customers are committed to addressing climate change, and sustainable aviation fuels are the safest and most measurable solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the coming decades,” Stan Deal, president and chief executive, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said.
“We’re committed to working with regulators, engine companies and other key stakeholders to ensure our airplanes and eventually our industry can fly entirely on sustainable jet fuels.”
Sustainable fuels were previously known as biofuels, renewable fuels and alternative fuels. Biofuels are produced from “bio-based feedstock” like agricultural and forestry residues, chicken tallow and cooking oils, Newsum says. Sustainable fuels can also be derived from solid waste, gasses generated by steel mills and CO2 pulled from the air by a process called direct air capture.
Burning fossil-based fuel releases into the atmosphere carbon that would otherwise have been trapped underground. But burning biofuel releases carbon that had previously been absorbed from the atmosphere by plants, making the fuel’s CO2 impact “almost neutral”, according to IATA.
Currently, airlines can only burn sustainable fuel that has been blended with fossil-based fuel, and the percent of sustainable fuel in those blends cannot exceed 50%.
That is because sustainable fuel can effect aircraft and engines – notably seals – differently than fossil-based fuel. Also, higher-percent blends do not meet fuel standards set by organisations like ASTM International in the USA and the UK’s Defence Standarization, says Newsum.
Airlines have been working at differing paces to incorporate sustainable fuel into their operations. But Newsum says the globe’s carriers burned only about 18.9 million litres (5 million USgal) of sustainable fuel in 2019 – less than one tenth of a percent of the 364 billion litres burned by all airlines.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: News Agencies | Flight Global