Gatineau biofuel company helping to revolutionize airline industry
Published Friday, January 26, 2018 3:15PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 26, 2018 7:15PM EST
A Gatineau biofuel company is helping to revolutionize the airline industry.
Gatineau's Agrisoma is powering the world's first ever transpacific flight from the United States to Australia using jet fuel from a renewable source. On Sunday, Australia's Qantas Airline will depart on a 15-hour journey from Los Angeles to Melbourne using a mix of traditional and renewable jet fuel.
"The majority of people are starting to have serious concerns about the environment and I think people recognize that our climate is becoming different on an annual basis," said Agrisoma CEO Steven Fabijanski.
Agrisoma’s biojet fuel is made by harvesting Carinata crop, an industrial type of mustard seed, before crushing the grain to recover the oil and converting that oil into jet fuel. The process is the same as making petroleum-derived jet fuel but is easier on the environment. The company said the seed can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.
"For the aviation industry that's really important because they are growing significantly," Fabijanski said. "Right now they are a small contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but as they grow in size that's going to become even more."
The renewable fuel is estimated to cost several centre more per litre, but that price is expected to come down as more airlines shift to more renewable fuel types. International airline rules prevent flights from using 100 per cent renewable resources as jet fuel, but even split loads can make a significant difference.
Fabijanski estimates his company's biofuel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the LA to Melbourne flight by seven per cent.
"The renewable fuel is more expensive than traditional fuel, but the benefits you have in terms of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be encourage the use of these alternative fuels in operations," Fabijanski said.
The Carinata seed is grown by farmers in Australia and then gets crushed by local agricultural infrastructure. The oil is then sent to bio-refineries in the United States for conventional processing into jet fuel.
In addition to oil, the seed also produces a protein that farmers can use to feed their cattle.
"Our intent is to change the way we do things," Fabijanski said.
The long-term goal between the two companies is to grow the crop on 400,00 hectares of land which will produce more than 200 million litres of bio jet fuel for Qantas, or roughly half its yearly fuel consumption.
Agrisoma is in talks with other airlines to secure a similar deal.