Less than two weeks after Boeing co-launched a facility with the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to study alternative fuels in Beijing, Airbus inked a deal with the Beijing-based Tsinghua University to propel the commercialization of aviation biofuels. Phase one of Airbus’ project, which is slated for completion in the second half of 2012, involves the assessment of suitable feedstock sources.
Used cooking oil and algae are two key fuel sources that Airbus and its partners will look at during their phase-one assessment. The partners will then select the best possible feedstock sources from the mix during the second phase of the project; the analysis is scheduled for completion by early 2013.
Once all of the preliminary work is completed, the partners will look at increasing the production rate of the biofuels to develop quantities suitable for commercial use.
Tsinghua University’s Zhang Xiliang said the research has the potential to tremendously modernize the Chinese aviation sector. “The project will help us improve the understanding of the nature of aviation biofuels commercialization in China, identify the opportunities and challenges, and evaluate the possibility of social, economic, market and technology change and its cost, obstacles and challenges,” he said in a statement.
“We believe that the research will have positive effects on energy conservation, emissions reduction and climate-change addressing in the Chinese aviation sector,” Zhang continued.
As the fastest-growing aviation market in the world, China is a strategic market for Airbus, according to a press release. In another strategic move, Airbus signed a joint MoU with competitors Boeing and Embraer in March to collaborate on the development of biofuels. The aircraft manufacturers detailed their plans to “speak in unity to government, biofuel producers and other key stakeholders to support, promote and accelerate the availability of sustainable, new jet fuel sources” in joint press releases.