The Aviation Blog

Boeing researchers have identified green diesel as a potential aviation biofuel of high sustainability, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by at least half over its lifecycle. Boeing said last week that it is working to gain approval from government agencies for aircraft use of renewable green diesel, which is already used in ground transport.

Biofuel research in a Boeing laboratory in Seattle.
Biofuel research in a Boeing laboratory in Seattle.

Green diesel — chemically distinct from biodiesel — is made from fats and oils, and Boeing’s researchers have found it to have a chemical profile similar to today’s sustainable aviation biofuels, meaning it could be blended directly with conventional jet fuel. Moreover, U.S. and European industry has existing capacity to provide 600 million gallons per year, accounting for up to 1 percent of current global aviation fuel needs at a price — $3 per gallon, given government incentives — competitive with conventional fuel.

“Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel,” says James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division. “We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry’s reliance on fossil fuel.”

The green diesel initiative is part of Boeing’s long-term commitment to sustainable growth in aviation, following its Optimal Flights programme and ecoDemonstrator aircraft. Boeing is also part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, an alliance of aviation industry participants seeking to develop sustainable biofuels that avoid adverse local land-use and environmental effects while lowering CO2 emissions overall.

“Boeing wants to establish new pathways for sustainable jet fuel, and this green diesel initiative is a groundbreaking step in that long journey,” adds Boeing executive Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration. “To support our customers, industry and communities, Boeing will continue to look for opportunities to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.”

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