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Boeing partners with Chinese firm to boost aviation biofuels

COMAC and Boeing partner to convert used cooking oil into sustainable fuel for jets in China

Used cooking oil could be turned into biofuel for aircrafts

Chinese and US aerospace firms have teamed up in a bid to boost the amount of biofuels for use in the BRIC country’s aviation industry. Both companies will fund research into developing techniques to treat cooking oil and turn it into the renewable fuel. 

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and US air giant Boeing opened a centre in Beijing that will collaborate with China-based universities and research institutions on advancing expertise in aviation biofuel and reducing carbon emissions.

In the first project at Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center, the researchers will identify contaminants in waste cooking oil and further develop the processes that may clean it for use as jet fuel.

Shi Jianzhong, vice president of COMAC said: “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".

Dong Yang Wu, vice president of Boeing Research & Technology - China said: “We are excited about opportunities to partner with world-class research capabilities in China in ways that will accelerate the global push for renewable jet fuels and support commercial aviation’s growth while reducing its environmental footprint”.

China consumes around 29m tonnes of cooking oil a year, while Chinese aviation uses 20m tonnes of jet fuel annually. If converted into fuel, discarded oil also has the potential to enhance regional biofuel supplies and improve biofuel’s affordability.

Approximately 1,500 commercial flights have already been made using fuel made from plants and waste products, but supplies are limited and costly.

On 20 August United Airlines announced it had joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, an industry working group that aims to accelerate the development and commercialisation of aviation biofuels.

Earlier this year German airline Lufthansa finished its trial run of using a biofuel mix for its planes, because it said it had used up all stocks of certified biofuel and no other reliable supplies were available.