Boeing In Hawaii Biofuel R&D Deal

Boeing, which says it sees the development of sustainable biofuels as key to the aviation industry achieving its goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2020, has already completed several biofuel-powered test flights. Now the company is getting into the biofuels research and production business, announcing a collaboration with Hawai‘i BioEnergy to identify biofuel sources and support technologies for producing drop-in jet biofuels – fuels that are compatible with today’s engines.

According to Boeing, the consortium is only considering plant sources that don’t distort the global food chain, compete with fresh or crop water resources, or lead to unintended land-use changes. Specifically, the team will investigate nonfood biomass sources that can be grown locally, like sorghum and eucalyptus.

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image via Boeing

Hawai‘i BioEnergy was established by three of Hawaii’s largest landowners: Kamehameha Schools, Grove Farm Company, and Maui Land and Pineapple Company. The company aims to help Hawaii reduce its energy costs, greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels by helping develop sustainable biofuels on the islands. Hawai‘i BioEnergy has already made a name for itself by supplying biofuels to Hawaiian Electric Company for electricity generation.

“As an Asia Pacific gateway and leading tourism destination, Hawaii can play a meaningful role in helping aviation reduce carbon emissions, while increasing regional energy resources,” Billy Glover, a Boeing vice president, said in a statement. “This collaborative effort will allow us to examine potential local options, while protecting the beauty and culture these islands have to offer.”

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Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).