ZHUHAI, China, 17 Nov. 2012. Airbus, EADS Innovation Works and ENN, a bio-energy company based in China, have signed a memorandum of understanding at the China International Air Show in Zhuhai. The partners aim to explore options for alternative aviation fuels. The scope of the collaboration includes technical qualification of aviation fuels based on algae oil and the promotion of their use for aviation in China.
In phase one, the partners are collaborating on maturity assessment of algae oil technology, on oil testing and analysis and on the development of tools to assess the environmental, economic, and societal impact of this technology. ENN has already developed the production plant of algae based oil, one of the most promising new generation alternative fuels for aviation.
In the second phase, the partners hope to plan test flights for 2013 in China with algae oil produced by ENN.
The pilot plant developed by ENN is able to produce more than 10 tons of algae-based oil per year. From 2013 onwards, the partners will look at scaling up the alternative fuel production process to achieve sustainable quantities of aviation fuel for flight use.
“Microalgae are considered to be one of the most promising pathways for the production of biofuels for Aviation,” said Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer of EADS. “We have already proved that it is technically possible to fly with Algae Oil. Now we need to demonstrate that the industrial production of algae based biofuel is both ecologically and economically viable.”
Certain species of algae contain high amounts of oil. This oil can be extracted, processed and refined. Microalgae reproduce rapidly and create at least 30 times more organic substance per cultivation area than rapeseed. Their cultivation does not compete with food production. Algae can be grown on poor quality land using non potable or saltwater. Their main advantage is that microalgae are consuming large amounts of CO2.
The partnership agreement is one of the initiatives to develop a complete sustainable aviation bio-fuel production capability in China. Airbus is leading a global program connecting farmers, refiners, and airlines to form regional sustainable alternative fuel value chains. Airbus' goal is to have a value chain in every continent. So far, Airbus has six value chains in Latin America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and with the Chinese value chain, Asia.