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Boeing and China team up for biofuels

By control on August 16, 2012

Boeing and the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China have opened a facility in Beijing intended to push forward the development of alternative fuels and other aviation technologies. Employees of the newly minted Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center will first tackle recycling cooking oil into biofuel. Participants in the facility include Chinese universities and research institutions.

According to a press release announcing the collaboration, China consumes 29 million tonnes of cooking oil annually, and Chinese planes use about 20 million tonnes of jet fuel.

"Energy conservation emission reduction has currently become the hotspot and focus of the global aviation sector, and our collaboration with Boeing in this regard will have profound impacts in China as well as the world," COMAC's Shi Jianzhong said in a statement. "Meanwhile, we wish to construct the new center as a demonstrative advanced technology center and to make contributions to the development of the aviation industry in China and world with the concerted efforts of both sides."

Boeing and Airbus have been collaborating with carriers for the past few years, running test flights of planes fueled by blends of traditional jet fuel and recycled waste. These tests have successfully shown that there are no issues flying planes powered by cooking oil or a variety of other feedstock. As Boeing's Terrance Scott told Air Cargo World in May, "We’ve now moved beyond the technical feasibility questions. We know it works; we know there’s no engine issues; we know the performance values."

Scott said at the time that Boeing officials had initiated regional projects all over the world and were working in Australia, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, among other places. In each area, the challenge is to identify appropriate biofuel material and set up supply chains.

"The issue now is not technical, it’s quantity," he said at the time. "There’s a demonstrated industry demand for these fuels, but there’s not enough to go around."

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