FAA Alternative Energy Investments, Cleaner More Sustainable Jet Fuel


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FAA Alternative Energy Investments, Cleaner More Sustainable Jet Fuel

By Jim Douglas

December 3, 2011 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is awarding $7.7 million in contracts to eight companies to help advance alternative, environmentally-friendly, sustainable sources for commercial jet fuel. The FAA funds are being distributed by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) John A. Volpe Center. 

“These new green aviation fuels will use energy sources right here at home,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  “This type of innovation will create good-paying jobs in the airline and energy industries and help protect the environment at the same time.” 

The contracts address a recommendation issued by the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, which was commissioned by Secretary LaHood last year. The committee, comprised of experts from industry, academia, labor and government, specifically recommended that DOT exercise strong national leadership to promote and display U.S. aviation as a first user of sustainable alternative fuels.

Accordingly, the eight companies selected for the contracts will help the FAA develop and approve alternative, sustainably-sourced “drop-in” jet fuels that can be used without changing aircraft engine systems or airport fueling infrastructure.  As part of that work, the companies will develop these biofuels from sources such as alcohols, sugars, biomass, and organic materials known as pyrolysis oils.   

In addition, the contracts call for research into alternative jet fuel quality control, examination of how jet biofuels affect engine durability, and provide guidance to jet biofuel users about factors that affect sustainability. “Alternative aviation fuels offer enormous potential environmental and economic benefits,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “This work, in combination with investments being made by other U.S. agencies and industry, will advance our pursuit of clean alternative jet fuels for a more sustainable NextGen aviation system in the United States and around the world.” 

The contracts build on alternative fuel development investments by the Departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as by FAA. These contracts stem from work the FAA is doing through the agency’s Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative (CAAFI) and the agency’s Continuous Lower Emissions, Energy and Noise (CLEEN) program.  These public, academic and private-sector partnerships include approximately 300 stakeholders from the airline, aerospace, energy, research, state and federal governments.

The awards went to $1.1 million for Honeywell UOP of Des Plaines, Ill., $3 million for LanzaTech, Inc. of Roselle, Ill., $1.5 million for Virent Energy Systems of Madison, Wisc., $1.5 million for Velocys, Inc. of Plain City, Ohio, $280,000 for Honeywell Aerospace of Phoenix, Ariz., $250,000 for Metron Aviation, Inc. of Dulles, Va., $50,000 for Futurepast: Inc. of Arlington, Va. and $25,000 for Life Cycle Associates, LLC of Portola Valley, Calif.

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