Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Qantas to trial first biofuel flight to US in 2018

Qantas plans to operate its first biofuel trial flight between the US and Australia next year, and the carrier is also supporting the development of biofuel production in Australia.

The trial flight will be on a Boeing 787-9 on the Los Angeles-Melbourne route in early 2018, in collaboration with World Fuel Services and AltAir Fuels. The trial will use a blend of 30% biofuel and 70% jet fuel. So far this is the only trial flight planned by Qantas for 2018.

The biofuel for this flight will be derived from an industrial type of mustard seed known as brassica carinata. Qantas has previously operated biofuel trial flights on domestic routes, although for those it used biofuel derived from used cooking oil with a 50% blend.

Qantas announced a new partnership Nov. 18 with Canadian-based company Agrisoma, which is a producer of carinata-based biofuel. The airline and Agrisoma intend to work with Australian farmers to help develop the crop there.

The airline said the long-term goal of the Agrisoma partnership is to have 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) of carinata grown, which could yield more than 200 million liters (52.8 million gal.) of jet biofuel per year. This would potentially provide enough for a biorefinery for aviation fuel in Australia.

By helping develop the feedstock supply chain, Qantas hopes to support the business case of a local refinery that can process carinata and other similar feedstocks. Export markets for the seed oil will allow the development of the business in Australia while the partnership works with governments and refiners to develop a local refining and supply capability.

The University of Queensland has already trialed carinata crops in Queensland and South Australia in conjunction with Agrisoma. These trials were successful and will be scaled up in 2018, the university said. Agrisoma already has commercial biofuel operations in the US, South America and Europe.

(Adrian Schofield - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

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