The biojet product was flown in this Etihad 777: Etihad photo

When America’s major plane maker Boeing, France’s major oil company Total, and a major Middle East carrier, Etihad, get together for a serious effort to undercut traditional oil with a biofuel substitute for fossil carbon releasing kerosene it is reasonable to think something of moment is going on.

And the more so when the action is in the United Arab Emirates, atop a proverbial sea of oil, at the Abu Dhabi emirate’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which is a party to the project.

This is part of the project announcement, which represents a significant firming up of previously announced biofuel initiatives in Abu Dhabi.

BIOjet Abu Dhabi will engage a broad range of stakeholders to develop a comprehensive framework for a UAE biofuel supply chain, including research and development and expanded investment in feedstock production and refining capability in the UAE and globally.

BIOjet Abu Dhabi was announced one day after Etihad Airways conducted a demonstration flight with a Boeing 777 powered in part by the first UAE-produced biokerosene from an innovative plant biomass-processing technology. The biofuel was partially converted from biomass by Total and its partner Amyris. Takreer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), did the final aviation biofuel distillation, adding the UAE to a handful of countries that have produced and flown on their own biokerosene.

The Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, funded by Etihad Airways and Boeing, is currently researching and developing salt-tolerant plants that would be raw material for the same refining processes to produce renewable fuel.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, “In collaboration with our key partners, our goal is to support and help drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and also globally. We have made some important first steps in this process and our continued focus will be to develop further initiatives such as this which will facilitate the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels for Etihad Airways in the coming years.”

Note that the words ‘anthropogenic forced global warming’ do not appear. For some time now the various players in the race to develop biofuels to an economically competitive scale have clearly decided not to upset the sensibilities of the ignorant in their pursuit of the rewards for reducing fossil sourced carbon emissions.

Biofuels use carbon taken from the natural short term carbon exchange cycles, where the carbon is continually recycled rather than being released from fossil fuel repositories in quantities which trap excessive heat in the lower atmosphere with serious environmental consequences.

Etihad expects to start commercial flights of aircraft with bio jet fuel in five years, chief operations officer Richard Hill told Reuters.

“In five years, technology will mature for biofuel to be commercially viable. We could offer competitive fares in the industry,” he said, adding that it was too early in the project to elaborate on issues such as the total cost of investment or production capacity.

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