With the essential processes for making clean biofuels now well established, the need to efficiently distribute it to airlines is being addressed by Virgin Australia.
A Virgin Australia Group trial project will see US-based renewable fuel and chemical producer Gevo Inc supply sustainable aviation fuel, or biojet, to the supply infrastructure at Brisbane Airport.
VAH will be responsible for coordinating the purchase, supply and blending of the fuels and will work closely with the Queensland Government, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), Gevo Inc and other stakeholders to implement the initiative.
The first shipment of biojet from Gevo Inc is expected to be received and used over the coming months. The biojet, which meets recognised international quality and safety standards, is planned to be blended with traditional jet fuel and supplied on flights departing Brisbane, including Virgin Australia flights, over a two year period.
The initiative marks the first time in Australia that biojet will be supplied through an airport’s regular fuel supply system and the first time in the world that biojet produced using the alcohol-to-jet process will be supplied to an airport’s regular fuel supply system.
Biojet emits lower levels of carbon emissions compared to traditional fossil jet fuel and can be derived from sustainable sources including sugarcane bagasse, molasses, wood waste and agave. Biojet undergoes rigorous safety certification testing and is already used at major airports in Oslo and Los Angeles, including for Virgin Australia’s services between Los Angeles and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti said: “This initiative builds on Virgin Australia’s commitment to be a leader in the commercialisation of the sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia. The project announced today is critical to testing the fuel supply chain infrastructure in Australia to ensure that Virgin Australia and Brisbane Airport are ready for the commercial supply of these exciting fuels.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk added that the initiative from the Virgin Australia Group and Gevo could also catalyse investment in Queensland’s biofutures and sugarcane industries, leading to the replacement of biojet imports.
Brisbane Airport recently announced a major solar panel project as part of its drive to reduce the release of fossil locked carbon, which is the main driver of global warming.