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QANTAS: Australian journey to Sustainable Aviation Fuel

QANTAS: Australian journey to Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Airlines have become very conscious of the need to improve their environmental profile. They know that by burning huge quantities of oil derived fuel, they are pumping unsustainable emissions into the air. Most airlines are striving to find ways to stem this flow of carbon into the atmosphere, because besides being very bad for climate change, it is now considered very bad business practice.

Qantas has made various commitments to heighten its environmental credentials, everything from a Green frequent flyer tier, and offsetting your flights with carbon credits, to adopting the all-around minimum commitment for businesses of ‘Zero by 2050’. Despite my immediate suspicion that there might be a good deal of green-washing involved, Qantas does seem to be investing in a legitemate actual climate change mitigation initiative by investing in a biofuel initiative on Australian soil.

Qantas A320XLR
Qantas A320XLR [Qantas]

Five way Partnership

Qantas announced today that it is working on a biofuel initiative, using farming by products like sugarcane to produce a bio Jet fuel in partnership with Airbus, The Queensland government, manufacturer Jet Zero Australila, and technology company LanzaJet.

Don’t get too excited, since it is just a AU$6 million feasibility study they are looking at, with Qantas and Airbus providing a third of the funding (AU$2 million) initially, withi an intent to contribute up to US$200 million to establish an SAF (Sustainable Airline Fuel) industry in Australia.

The advantage of SAF is that it can run on the current jet engines, using current distribution and delivery systems, and so forms a kind of transition technology away from oil, but probably ending in something like hydrogen based fuel, that produces no carbon dioxide. It’s like the equivalent of gas in the current energy environment. SAF still produces carbon dioxide on combustion, its just less than oil, and happens to be renewable, if you have enough sugar cane waste! Oh, and Airbus says their jets can take a mix of up to 50% when combined with traditional fuel. So its not quite the decarbonising revolution that is needed in the airline industry.

As Qantas Group Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Parker said – its an important first step.

Qantas 737 interior [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Australian Made

The other important aspect everyone from the Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles, to the Qantas sustainability boffind are crowing about is that this SAF will be made in Australia, rather than be imported – as Qantas does currently from overseas. Qantas is purchasing 10 million litres of SAF in the UK for flights out of London, and from 2025, it will buy 20 million litres/year for flights out of California.

The more the merrier

Qantas is not going it alone either. Its joined forces with five other companies to form the SAF Coalition. These companies include: Australia Post, Boston Consulting Group, KPMG Australia, Macquarie Group and Woodside Energy.

Qantas Project Sunrise A350 [Qantas]

2PAXfly Takeout

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