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The ATM Project: Jet Biofuels from Forest Residuals

Oct 8, 2015

The drive towards a smaller carbon footprint for the aviation industry has been given a boost by the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) of Canada. Announcing the details of six new funded projects at GARDN’s 7th AGM in Toronto, Executive Director Sylvain Cofsky welcomed the growing engagement of a range of industry, government, and academic interests with the aviation sector. “These new projects, in addition to seven others that were launched last year, will drive environmental progress and achievement in aerospace through strong collaborations between industry, the research community, and government,” said Sylvain Cofsky.

The ‘ATM’ project: Assessing the likely Technology Maturation pathways used to make biojet from forest residues, which falls under the broader programme, Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative: Enabling 2020 Carbon Neutral Growth in Aviation, brings together some of the foremost groups in North America and Europe working on ‘advanced biojet’. The project will advance the development of woody biomass as a feedstock for jet biofuel production.

The consortium, led by NORAM (Vancouver, BC) and the University of British Columbia, includes the Canadian government Canmet ENERGY laboratories, the US Pacific National NorthWest Laboratory (PNNL), (S&T)2 Consultants Inc. (Vancouver, BC), and skyNRG (Netherlands), with support from the Boeing Company, Bombardier Inc., Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd, is looking into making use of Canada’s considerable forest residues as a feedstock to make advanced biojet via thermochemical processing. Canada has the highest area of sustainably certified forests in the world and was at the forefront of using mill and forest residues to develop its world-class wood-pellet sector. The majority of these pellets are exported to Europe, where they are co-fired in coal-based power stations to reduce European carbon emissions. The existing logistical infrastructure for these and other biomass residues represents an attractive pathway for their strategic local use to produce advanced biojet.

The objectives of the ATM project include reducing aviation emissions, ensuring security of supply, and establishing more stable pricing. The consortium will work with various bio-oil producers to assess was of upgrading these fuels to high-specification advanced biojet.