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KLM Boeing 777-206ER PH-BQG

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777-206ERPhoto: Peter van Stelle, 20 June, 2012

On the 8 March, 2013 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) announced[1] to the world that it is beginning weekly flights by a Boeing 777-200 between John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, USA and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Netherlands using sustainable biofuel supplied by SkyNRG, a company which KLM founded 2009.

The biofuel is a HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) bio jet product and is blended, by SkyNRG, with at least 50% of fossil kerosene so that it can be used in aircraft.[2] The raw material used to make the non-fossil fuel component of sustainable biofuel is second-generation feedstock currently derived from refined used cooking oil. According to KLM this is a sustainable alternative because it ensures no additional farmland is required for its production, thereby creating no additional impact on biodiversity and food production.

This particular aircraft has the tail registration of PH-BQG which according to Plane Spotters[3] is a Boeing 777-206ER, has two GE GE90-94B Engines and took its first flight on the 12 April, 2004. According to Boeing[4] the fuel capacity is 171,170 litres and a with full passenger payload it has a range of 14,305 Kilometres.

Burning between 5162 litres and 8113 litres per engine during take off and then averaging about 4471 litres per hour in flight, one would wonder if there is enough waste cooking oil to sustain this. The answer to that wondering is that according to the United States Energy Information Administration it is estimated that 378,541,178 (378.5 million) litres of waste cooking oil is produced per day in USA. With similar per capita usage in Canada[5] and the United Kingdom[6], which averages out to be 3.3 litres per person per day, it makes for a total of 702,304,178 litres per day and when blended with 50% fossil kerosene it equals about 8206 Boeing 777-206ER 14,305 Kilometre flights, doing approximately 14 hours flying, per day. That is way too many serves of Fish And Chips!

CO2 Emissions

SkyNRG Biofuel saves up to 80% of CO2-emissions[1]. The flight between New York and Amsterdam, using Biofuel, saves 21.77 tonnes of CO2 from being released. To put this into perspective: According to Carbon Emissions Calculator[7] a car that uses 8 litres per 100 kilometres(KLMS) produces .11 tonnes of CO2 per 100 KLMS so the saving of 21.77 tonnes would equal this car driving 19791 kilometres.

Australia’s first Bio-port.

Virgin Australia, Brisbane Airport Corporation and SkyNRG announced on April 30th, 2013[8] a feasibility study into the creation of Australia’s first “bio-port” at Brisbane Airport. The three parties have agreed to enter a memorandum of understanding which will see them work together towards the ultimate goal of enabling aircraft to be fuelled with sustainable bio-jet fuel at Brisbane Airport. The feasibility study will involve researching the locally available feedstocks in Queensland, sustainable and cost-effective methods for transporting them and the most appropriate technology for converting them into Biofuel. It is anticipated that the feasibility study will take 12 months to complete.

What if waste cooking oil was unavailable?

To replace the raw material, in the event of refined used cooking oil being unavailable due to demand, oil producing crops would need to be utilised, one of which is Canola. According to a Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), from the University of Missouri, document[9] on Biofuel conversion factors, as at 2012, research shows that at 711 litres per hectare it would take 240.75 hectares, or 2.4075 square kilometres, to make enough biodiesel for one 14,305 Kilometre flight. Australian Canola varieties are planted annually, crops ripen after a 5 – 7 month growing season. So that would mean tying up 240.75 hectares for up to 7 months for one flight.

We need to do two things:

  1. Cut down on fried foods (Like that’s going to happen.)
  2. Start utilising the remaining capacity of 8205 daily Biofuel flights

References


[1] Press release – “Weekly flight using sustainable Biofuel”
[2] SkyNRG’s HEFA sustainable aviation fuel
[3] Plane Spotters
[4] Boeing 777-200ER performance summary
[5] Canada Population as at 6 October, 2013 34.88 million at 3.3 litres per day(LPD) = 115,104,000 LPD
[6] UK Population as at 6 October, 2013 63.23 million at 3.3 LPD = 208,659,000 LPD
[7] Carbon Emissions Calculator
[8] Virgin Australia, Brisbane Airport and SkyNRG plan to create Australia’s first bioport
[9] Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute Biofuel conversion factors as at 2012 (expired link)

Comments

  1. Lizzi Gal said:
    8 October 6:48 pm

    I find it interesting at the calculations of how much canola is required to fuel a flight if there isn’t enough reserve of old fush n chup oil; but I find it even more interesting that the same amount of land would be tied up to grow enough raw oil to fuel the fish n chip frying in the first place ….. If you know what I mean. Fascinating mr tk xx