Boeing: Biofuels Essential to Carbon-Neutral Growth

by | Mar 14, 2011

Boeing has said that biofuels will be essential to the company meeting its carbon-neutrality goals.

Without biofuels we cannot get there. It is a vital contribution,” Antonio De Palmas, Boeing’s president for EU and NATO relations, said in an interview with EurActiv.

De Palmas said that Boeing supports a commitment by the airline sector to achieve carbon neutral growth by 2020, and a “more aspirational” goal to halve emissions from aviation by 2050, from a 2005 baseline. He said the company will play a catalyst role to support the adoption of sustainable biofuels.

But he said the industry doesn’t yet know how much fossil fuels it can replace with biofuels. “Clearly, we don’t know how much biomass will be available in – let’s say – two years from now. And based on that, airlines cannot predict that they can have ‘X’ amount of biofuels available for their operations in 2013.”

De Palmas said the basic technology needed is in place, although more research will be needed to optimize biofuels’ efficiency. And he said the biggest challenge now is for the industry to find enough biomass. It will probably use a wide portfolio of feedstocks, including algae, he said.

Last summer Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University created an initiative to promote aviation biofuel development in the Pacific Northwest. The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest project is looking at biomass options to jet fuel within a four-state area as a way to reduce their carbon footprint.

Last month Boeing unveiled its 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet, which boasts 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger, a 16 percent better fuel economy and 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the Boeing 747-400.

The company said the 747-8 Intercontinental will be quieter, produce lower emissions and achieve better fuel economy than any competing jetliner.

Boeing also launched the 747-8 Freighter, which it said will achieve the same environmental benefits.

Boeing’s Mary Armstrong, vice president of environment, health and safety, discussed the connection between sustainability and corporate strategy in this video from NAEM’s 2010 conference.

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