From: the Australian - 11/03/2009
QANTAS has urged the federal Government to help establish an aviation biofuels industry in Australia.
The airline claims the Government's aviation green paper overlooked the development of a local jet biofuel industry that will be critical for the airline to reduce emissions.
Airlines have been working to develop aviation biofuels they can progressively introduce to existing aircraft and fuel systems.
While it is still early days, and issues remain about appropriate feedstock, aircraft tests over the past year have produced promising results.
Airlines are looking at a variety of second- and third-generation biofuel feedstocks that do not compete with food plants or replace forests.
"In Qantas's view, Australia is uniquely positioned to drive this development, given its large areas of non-arable land," Qantas says in a submission into the National Aviation policy.
"Building an economically sustainable 'biojet' supply chain is not possible for an individual airline, given the huge capital cost requirement and supply chain challenges. Government support and partnership with industry will be critical to accelerate development."
Qantas is not the first airline to identify Australia as a potential source of aviation biofuel.
Air New Zealand, which plans to use 10 per cent biofuel in its domestic fleet by 2012 in a move to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs, and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus have both suggested it has potential.
Air NZ late last year successfully concluded a world-first test of a second-generation biofuel in a commercial airliner, using a 50:50 mix of conventional Jet A1 and fuel derived from jatropha seeds.
But suggestions that jatropha, considered a pest in several Australian states, could be grown in Australia for biofuels are likely to meet with resistance.
Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research hit out at the suggestion when it was raised by Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe earlier this year.
The scientists said a noxious weed such as jatropha being considered as a suitable feedstock for aviation fuel displayed a disregard for the Australian landscape and a lack of concern for the environment.
They suggested consideration be given to nitrogen-fixing, drought-tolerant, native legume trees.