18 July 2011

 Lufthansa became the first airline to use biofuels on regular commercial flights on 15th of July in a six month trial that it estimates will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1,500 tonnes during the period. Lufthansa is using a mix of regular fuel and biofuel made by Neste Oil from jatropha and camelina crops and animal fats, in one engine of an Airbus plane on daily flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg. The magazine “The Bioenergy Interntional.Russia” and the information agency “INFOBIO” asked about new biofuel from its producer Neste Oil, Finland. Mr. Matti Lehmus, Executive Vice President, Oil Products and Renewables, Neste Oil gave the following answers. 

 - Dear Mr. Lehmus , please tell us, where is this new Lufthansabiofuel Lufthansaproduced?
 - Lufthansa’s batch is produced at our NExBTL plant in Porvoo, Finland. Aviation fuel in general can be produced at all of our 4 NExBTL plants (two in Porvoo, Finland, one in Singapore, and in the newest one in Rotterdam which will be started soon)/
- From which biomass this biofuel is produced? What is the technology?
- Neste Oil’s NExBTL technology can be used to produce both NExBTL renewable diesel as well as NExBTL renewable aviation fuel. Thus the technology and the main process is the same: both fuels are produced through hydrogenation of a mix of vegetable oils or waste fats.
Lufthansa’s fuel is produced out of jatropha oil, camelina oil, as well as waste animal fat. NExBTL aviation fuel can, however, be produced from all of the renewable raw materials that we currently have in our raw material base which currently consists of camelina oil, jatropha oil, rapeseed oil, and waste animal fat produced by the meat processing industry, as well as palm oil, stearin, and palm oil fatty acid distillate (PFAD) which are by-products of palm oil refining.
In recent years, Neste Oil has been investing quite heavily (80% of its overall R&D expenditure in 2010) on feedstock related research and technology in order to expand its feedstock base with new feedstock and to introduce new options to its various clients.
- What is the main advanage of this fuel, how do you combine it with fossil fuel?
- Compared to fossil kerosene, our NExBTL aviation fuel delivers high-levels of emissions cuts: it significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and environmentally harmful emissions, such as sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide. Thus as the aviation industry is increasingly attempting to reduce its environmental impact, airlines are starting to adopt these new renewable aviation fuels.
If talking about “combining”, instead of “comparing”, current specification by ASTM states that “up to 50% bioderived synthetic blending components can be added to conventional jet fuel”. Therefore, renewable aviation fuels are currently used in blends with fossil diesel not as such. 
- Which air companies will be used your biofuel in the near future? Do you have contracts already?
- There has been increasing interest in our product already as we are currently one of the only players in the market able to already produce this renewable aviation fuel at commercial scale. At this point, however, we do not wish to communicate about any contracts or negotiations.
The biofuels market in the aviation sector is an emerging market in which the volumes will initially be fairly small. In the future, however, we expect the demand to grow significantly both within the EU as well as elsewhere in the world.
- How much of this fuel will be used in 2011, and what is your forecast for 2015?
-Neste Oil has committed itself to a joint initiative called "European Aviation Biofuels Flight Path" that has set a target of increasing the amount of renewable fuel used by aviation to 2 million tons of renewable fuels annually by 2020.
In addition to Neste Oil, the signatories of the “Flight Path” include the European Commission, industry representatives, members of the financial community, and various NGOs. According on the position paper regarding this target: "The current
worldwide consumption of aviation is about 200 million tonnes kerosene per annum. European consumption was 53 million tonnes in 2010. Total annual consumption of the largest European airlines (Lufthansa group, AF/KLM group and BA) is about 20 million tonnes."
- What problems could be occurred when air companies use this fuel?  Is it 100% save?
- The use of Neste Oil's NExBTL aviation fuel became possible on 1 July as ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, approved the use of renewable aviation fuel produced through hydrotreating vegetable oils and animal fats.
The current specification by ASTM does not allow renewable fuels to be used as 100%. Therefore the renewable aviation fuels are used in blends with fossil kerosene. The ASTM specification states that “up to 50% bioderived synthetic blending components can be added to conventional jet fuel”. Use of NExBTL renewable aviation fuel is safe – otherwise it wouldn't be in use in daily commercial flights.
- What could we expect in the future?
- Aviation industry is increasingly focusing on renewable fuels because they want to start cutting their emissions and decreasing their dependency on fossil fuel. The adoption of renewable aviation fuels will speed up as aviation will be included in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 2012 on. At that point cutting CO2 emissions by using renewable aviation fuels will help airlines save money related to ETS while also affecting their reputation positively among air travellers. Keeping these in mind, there will be more and more airlines adopting these renewable fuels in the next few years.





Olga Rakitova, INFOBIO

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