Biofuels get investment whilst taking to the skies

21 May 2021 | Muriel Cozier

‘Biofuel is a powerful tool in the clean energy toolkit…’

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded $35 million in funding to 15 research projects focused on advancing new technologies to decarbonise biorefining processes used across the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors. The projects are being carried out in colleges, universities, and laboratories across nine US states and the funding is supported by the DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The 15 teams will work on several methods to ‘optimise biofuel manufacturing.’ These methods include carbon-optimised fermentation strains that avoid waste carbon dioxide and engineered organisms that can use a mix of different sources of energy and carbon, without producing carbon dioxide. Organisations receiving awards include: Lanza Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of Washington.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm commented: ‘Biofuel is a powerful tool in the clean energy toolkit…The DoE is investing in research to reduce emissions and maximise the availability of efficient biofuel as we strive to reach President Biden’s net-zero carbon goals.’

Meanwhile, Air France-KLM, along with Total, Groupe ADP and Airbus, have announced the completion of the first long-haul flight powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) produced in France. The partners said the 16% biofuel blend used for the flight avoided 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The SAF, based on used cooking oil as a feedstock, was produced by Total as its La Mède biorefinery, near Marseilles, and its Oudalle factory near Le Havre, France.  This SAF has also received certification from the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System.

French legislation calls for aircraft to use at least 1% SAF by 2022 for all flights originating from France. This is in line with the European ambition to gradually increase SAF in aviation to 5% by 2030, as part of the European Green Deal.

Airbus has said that is also conducting a series of tests to certify airliners to fly with 100% SAF in the coming decades.

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