FAPESP Countdown: “Green Flight”

The Brazil Institute is counting down to this year’s FAPESP Week (November 17-21), organized in collaboration with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. The symposium aims at strengthening the links between scientists from Brazil and the U.S. with the objective of promoting research partnerships. Find out more about the 2014 FAPESP Week in California here

Marcos de Oliveira – Pesquisa FAPESP, 2014 Print Edition, Published in July 2013

The accounting has been done. By 2050 commercial aviation is expected to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 50%, compared to the amount emitted by aircraft engines in 2005. In order to accomplish this, institutions and companies in a number of countries are carrying out a great deal of research and development to produce a non-petroleum based kerosene from renewable sources, one that will release fewer harmful gases into the atmosphere. Biokerosene, as it is being called, is likely to once again make Brazil a major world reference center for the development and production of a biofuel, as it was with ethanol and biodiesel.

This trend is highlighted in the study “Flightpath to Aviation Biofuels in Brazil: Action Plan” presented in early June in São Paulo, and sponsored by two of the three largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, Boeing and Embraer, with FAPESP funding and coordinated by the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Interdisciplinary Center for Energy Planning (NIPE). Also participating in the study, developed over the course of one year with the completion of 8 workshops, were 33 partners, including national and international companies, universities and research institutes.

The study presents several technological routes that begin with raw materials such as traditional sugarcane, algae, animal fats, vegetable oils, lignocellulosic material, starches and urban waste, and use different conversion and refining technologies to obtain biokerosene. At this stage, the study also concludes that there are still many significant gaps to be closed when it comes to technology and costs. Technical difficulties will require the participation of all those involved, aircraft manufacturers and aviation companies, developers and suppliers of fuel, in addition to the world’s certifying bodies. Another factor to be taken into consideration is the logistics of producing and distributing biofuels to 108 domestic airports where large aircraft operate, representing 1 million scheduled flights just in Brazilian airspace, and the need to service 62,000 international flights departing each year in Brazil, bound for 58 airports in 35 countries. These outgoing flights represent 60% of the kerosene consumed by aviation in Brazil.

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Article and photo courtesy of Revista Pesquisa FAPESP.

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