SEATTLE, 4 Dec. 2014. Boeing’s [NYSE:BA] ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test airplane flew for the first time using "green diesel," a sustainable aviation biofuel blend of 15 percent green diesel and 85 percent petroleum jet fuel in the left engine.
The flight, the world’s first using green diesel, took off from Boeing Field in Seattle. The flight test was coordinated with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney, and EPIC Aviation blended the fuel.
"Green diesel offers a tremendous opportunity to make sustainable aviation biofuel more available and more affordable for our customers," says Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We will provide data from several ecoDemonstrator flights to support efforts to approve this fuel for commercial aviation and help meet our industry's environmental goals."
Sustainable green diesel is made from vegetable oils, waste cooking oil, and waste animal fats. This fuel is chemically similar to HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) aviation biofuel approved in 2011, Boeing officials say. Green diesel is chemically distinct and a different fuel product than "biodiesel," used in ground transportation.
With production capacity of 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, green diesel could rapidly supply as much as 1 percent of global jet fuel demand. With a wholesale cost of about $3 per gallon, inclusive of U.S. government incentives, green diesel approaches price parity with petroleum jet fuel.
"The airplane performed as designed with the green diesel blend, just as it does with conventional jet fuel," says Capt. Mike Carriker, chief pilot for New Airplane Product Development, Boeing Test & Evaluation. "This is exactly what we want to see in flight tests with a new type of fuel."
Green diesel is among more than 25 new technologies being tested by Boeing's ecoDemonstrator Program aboard 787 Dreamliner ZA004. The program accelerates the testing, refinement, and use of new technologies and methods that can improve aviation's environmental performance.
On a lifecycle basis, sustainably produced green diesel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 90 percent compared to fossil fuel, according to Finland-based Neste Oil, which supplied green diesel for the ecoDemonstrator 787.