If it weren't for gutter oil, the public would still be relatively unfamiliar with the concept of aviation biofuel. The former, as a "street mouse", then turned into a tall aviation fuel, which really brightened the public's eyes.
All this began four years ago. In 2011, Royal Dutch Airlines began to use biofuel commercially for conversion into aviation oil. The professional term aviation biofuel has also officially entered the public's attention. Domestically, China Eastern Airlines carried out the first flight test of aviation bio kerosene in China in April 2013, and HNA also carried out commercial passenger flights of aviation bio kerosene in March 2015.
Although the story has just begun and aviation biofuels are currently only commercially available on a small scale, it is obvious that there is not enough gutter oil due to the huge demand for aviation fuels. The development of aviation biofuels requires more diverse raw materials and technologies.
"At present, the bio aviation oil used in domestic test flights comes from catering waste oil (commonly known as" gutter oil "), Tung seed and palm oil. Judging from the current situation, these three raw materials alone are difficult to meet the needs of mass production of aviation biofuels. " Wu Dongyang, vice president of Boeing China technology and R & D, said in an exclusive interview with caixinenergy reporter Liu Shutong (a Dutch returned entrepreneur).
In recent years, subject to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the development of the aviation industry, Boeing, as an aircraft manufacturer, has also focused on strengthening its attention and research and development in the field of aviation biofuels.
It is reported that Boeing began to pay attention to and promote the development of aviation biofuels in 2005, and jointly developed aviation biofuels with NASA and tecbio biofuels of Brazil in 2006. In China, Boeing has also started to promote the development of aviation biofuels in the Chinese market in 2009, including relevant research and development work.
For the shortage of raw materials and high cost, Wu Dongyang said that Boeing is working on two aspects: looking for and exploring biomass that can be used to produce aviation fuel in large quantities to solve the problem of lack of biomass resources, such as microorganisms, lignocellulose and other biomass used to produce biological aviation oil; Second, through the development of new technical routes, a variety of biomass resources will be economically and efficiently converted into aviation fuel. Boeing hopes to finally achieve the goal of reducing product costs through these two aspects of work.
Development status and existing problems
Will the use of biofuels affect the efficiency and safety of aircraft?
A: in recent years, there have been more than 1600 test flights and commercial flights based on aviation biofuels around the world, including many long-distance flights. These flight test projects have aroused widespread concern in the society, played a good role in promoting and publicizing the development of the whole industry, and proved that standard aviation biofuels can completely or partially replace petrochemical aviation fuels.
What are the main difficulties of biofuel propulsion? Technology? Raw materials? How is the situation in China different from that of Boeing in other regions?
A: there are both major difficulties, especially in technology. The oxygen content in biomass is very high. How to develop an efficient and economical biomass deoxidation process and technology is the difficulty and core of the production of aviation biofuels.
Internationally, the development of aviation biofuels began roughly in 2005. China has started the research and development of aviation biofuels since 2009, so there is no big gap with the international community. China is a country with less land and more people, and the per capita cultivated land area is less than half of the world average. Ensuring people's food consumption is the top task of the country. This means that grain biomass raw materials, such as sugar and corn, cannot be used to produce biofuels in China. Therefore, the top criterion for developing aviation biofuels in China is not to "compete with the people for food and land". China should actively explore and develop aviation biofuel production technology suitable for China's biomass resources based on its national conditions. For example, the development of low-cost production technology using crop straw, forestry waste, urban domestic waste, industrial "three wastes" and other wastes as raw materials. On the one hand, it can turn waste into treasure, on the other hand, it can also solve the problem of environmental pollution caused by the current improper treatment of these wastes.
It is said that the current cost of biofuel is still very high, which is 2-3 times that of ordinary aviation fuel. What is the main reason? Has Boeing explored some sustainable operation methods?
A: the main reason is that the current available raw materials are expensive and the production cost is high. In terms of mass production of aviation biofuels, we will also encounter a series of difficulties, such as limited source of raw materials, unstable composition and quality, and uneven seasonal distribution. Therefore, technological innovation is a necessary way and urgent task to realize the commercialization of aviation biofuels.
In order to realize the large-scale industrialized production of aviation biofuels, a stable and large number of biomass sources are important factors. At present, the biological aviation oil used in domestic flights for test flights comes from catering waste oil, jatropha seed (Jatropha fruit) and palm oil respectively. Judging from the current situation, these three raw materials alone are difficult to meet the needs of mass production of aviation biofuels. Therefore, Boeing is trying to solve this problem from two aspects: looking for and exploring biomass that can be used to produce aviation fuel in large quantities to solve the problem of lack of biomass resources, such as microorganisms, lignocellulose and other biomass used to produce biological aviation oil; Second, through the development of new technical routes, the above-mentioned biomass resources can be economically and efficiently converted into aviation fuel. We hope to finally achieve the goal of reducing product costs through these two aspects of work.
How to better let traditional oil companies participate in the promotion process of biofuels?
A: on the one hand, by improving the economy and commercialization feasibility of aviation biofuels, on the other hand, by controlling carbon emissions and formulating preferential subsidy policies, traditional oil companies can join the promotion process of biofuels.
ICAO formulated a carbon emission reduction plan for 2050 in 2005. It is hoped that through a series of technological innovations, carbon emissions in 2020 will remain at the level of 2005, and will be reduced to half of 2005 by 2050. On the one hand, it is a rapidly growing industry, on the other hand, it is a huge task of emission reduction, which makes the whole civil aviation industry face a great challenge of carbon emission reduction. In 2008, the European Union planned to impose a carbon emission tax on the aviation industry from 2012. Although this measure has not been implemented because of the opposition of all countries, we also realize that greenhouse gas emissions are an important reason for a series of current climate change and environmental problems. Reducing carbon emissions, if not a mandatory requirement, is also a goal worthy of the joint efforts of the entire aviation industry.
Some countries have formulated preferential subsidy policies to encourage the development of aviation biofuel industry. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to include aviation biofuel into the renewable fuel standard system in 2013, that is, like the producers of fuel ethanol and biodiesel, aviation biofuel producers can receive subsidies by obtaining renewable evaluation indexes (rins).
Later, with the depletion of oil resources and the increase of costs, aviation biofuels will also help in balancing fuel costs. This is also one of the important purposes of promoting the commercialization of aviation biofuels.
When does Boeing expect biofuels to be used on a large scale? What are the goals of the international aviation organization?
A: judging from the current situation, the production cost of aviation biofuels is still much higher than that of petrochemical aviation oil. Therefore, it is still difficult to popularize the application of aviation biofuels on flights before finding a new technology and commercial production mode of efficient and cheap aviation biofuels. It is optimistic that there will be enough technological innovation and breakthroughs to promote a certain scale of aviation biofuel industry within 10 years.
On behalf of the entire aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) proposed three major commitment goals to ICAO: "from 2009 to 2020, the average annual fuel efficiency will be increased by 1.5%; zero carbon emission growth will be achieved in 2020; and carbon emissions will be reduced by 50% in 2050 compared with 2005". Sustainable aviation (SA) released the CO2 roadmap for sustainable aviation in March 2012, pointing out that the significant growth of the UK aviation industry in 2050 will not lead to a substantial increase in net CO2 emissions, and plans to reduce CO2 emissions through the development of advanced aircraft and engine technology, the promotion of sustainable biofuel applications, and the improvement of air traffic management and operating procedures.
As an aircraft manufacturer, it is neither a supplier of aviation fuel nor an airline using aviation fuel. Why is it so active in this field and what role it hopes to play in this industrial chain?
A: ahead, the use of aviation biofuels can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry and avoid environmental pollution caused by the disorderly treatment of biomass resources. Boeing has the determination and obligation to promote the development of aviation biofuel industry, so as to reduce the impact of the entire aviation industry on the environment and help China improve air quality. Second, Boeing has strong scientific research and engineering strength, has a clear understanding of the performance and requirements of aviation fuel, and is deeply involved in the approval process of aviation biofuels. Therefore, it is also one of the enterprises capable of promoting this work in the whole industry. Third, at present, solar energy, fuel cells, nuclear energy, etc. are difficult to be applied to the field of commercial aviation, and aviation biofuels are among the few viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Fourth, for our customers - Airlines, the fuel cost exceeds 35% of the total operating cost, which is a large single cost for airlines at present. The commercialization of aviation biofuels helps to meet the demand of airlines for fuel consumption and price.
At present, where does Boeing carry out biofuel projects around the world? What is the main cooperation mode between Boeing and airlines of various countries to jointly promote biofuels?
A: Boeing has participated in the research, development and testing of new aviation biofuel raw materials and conversion processes in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. And with many airlines, including JAL, virgin airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines and other aviation biofuel test flights.
The main ways of cooperation include: (1) establishing a regional aviation biofuel roadmap to jointly evaluate the regional feasibility of the aviation biofuel supply chain, including the United States, China, Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South Africa; (2) In terms of test flights and commercial flights, support airlines to use approved aviation biofuels, and assist in testing unapproved aviation biofuels; (3) Together with airlines and other industry partners, we have established a sustainable aviation biofuel user group (safug). Nearly 30 airlines around the world have joined this organization, representing about 1/3 of the global aviation fuel demand. This group will promote the development, certification and commercial application of sustainable aviation biofuels.
What is the progress of Boeing and Chinese airlines in promoting biofuels?
A: in 2011, Boeing, in cooperation with Air China, PetroChina, Hewlett Packard, and Honeywell UOP, successfully implemented and completed China's first aviation biofuel test flight with Boeing 747-400 at Beijing Capital Airport. This flight verified the feasibility of aviation biofuel technology and industrial chain in China, provided important data support for airlines, and laid the foundation for biofuel standard formulation in China and future commercial flights.
This year, Boeing cooperated with Hainan Airlines and Sinopec to use Boeing 737-800 aircraft to carry passengers on the previous bio aviation oil flight. This flight marks the entry of China's aviation industry into the commercial flight stage in the field of energy conservation and emission reduction, and will also have a far-reaching impact on the sustainable development of new energy applications and green low-carbon flights.
In addition, Boeing is also based on the local situation, combined with China's national conditions and R & D capabilities, actively exploring and developing China's unique biomass resources, and has jointly established a joint research center for energy conservation and emission reduction with COMAC to cooperate with universities, Chinese Academy of Sciences and other research institutes to jointly develop material raw materials and processing technology. At present, Boeing has jointly carried out more than 20 aviation biofuel research projects with more than 10 domestic partners, including the research and development of processing technology for biomass such as energy plants, agricultural and forestry waste, waste oil, etc., the establishment of pilot workshops, the exploration of the feasibility of technology amplification, the comprehensive economic analysis and environmental assessment, the estimation of the annual output of various raw materials, and the analysis of the utilization of existing raw materials.