The Federal Aviation Administration is awarding $7.7 million in contracts to eight companies who will help the agency develop and approve sustainably-sourced “drop-in” jet fuels that can be used without changing aircraft engine systems or airport fueling infrastructure.
The funds are being distributed by the Department of Transportation’s 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 in an FAA news release. “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 LaHood last year. The committee, comprised of experts from industry, academia, labor and government, recommended that DOT exercise strong national leadership to promote and display U.S. aviation as a first user of sustainable alternative fuels.
The eight companies selected for the contracts will help the FAA move forward on the development of sustainable, alternative jet fuels. 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.
The contracts also 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.”
Companies receiving the contract awards include:
- $1.1 million for Honeywell UOP of Des Plaines, IL.
- $3 million for LanzaTech, Inc. of Roselle, IL
- $1.5 million for Virent Energy Systems of Madison, WI
- $1.5 million for Velocys, Inc. of Plain City, OH
- $280,000 for Honeywell Aerospace of Phoenix, AR
- $250,000 for Metron Aviation, Inc. of Dulles, VA
- $50,000 for Futurepast: Inc. of Arlington, VA
- $25,000 for Life Cycle Associates, LLC of Portola Valley, CA
The contracts result from work the FAA is doing through the agency’s Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative (CAAFI) and its 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.
It’s been amply shown that jet biofuel is feasible and works, now the trick is to make sure that it will be truly “drop-in” for all types of aircraft engines and that it can be produced in large enough volumes and at reasonable pricing to satisfy the growing demand for it.