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Sustainable Mallee Jet Fuel Project

Objective

The Sustainable Mallee Jet Fuel project’s goal is to assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of a proposed value chain for the growing and conversion of mallee biomass to jet fuel and other biofuels.​


Category
Feasibility Study

Value-chain step
All steps

Type of pathway
Lignocellulosic feedstock, pyrolysis

Starting time and duration
2012 - 2014

Stakeholders
Airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel producers, research organisations

Regional scope
Regional

Involved countries
Australia

Status
On-going
Description

The Sustainable Mallee Jet Fuel project was commissioned by Airbus and carried out by an existing consortium formed to investigate the large scale production of biomass from mallee eucalypts growns as short rotation coppice crops.

The study included two parts:

  • the sustainability assessment of the proposed value chain according to the Roundtable for Sustainable Biomass (RSB) principles,
  • the comparative life-cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, energy demand and fossil fuel use of mallee jet fuel and conventional jet fuel supply.

The assessment was performed for a case study consisting of a jet fuel value chain comprising the following components:

  • a mixed farm (grain-livestock) located in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, with 400-600 mm of annual rainfall;
  • a pyrolysis conversion facility with a conversion capability of 133 kt (dry) feedstock per year; and
  • an upgrading facility near Perth to upgrade the pyrolysis oil in jet fuel, with a supply capability of 13-20 Ml to Perth airport.

Project partners provided data to the project; the CRC and its R&D partners conducted the supporting analyses, and RMIT University conducted the lifecycle assessment for greenhouse gas emissions.


Partners

Airbus, Axens, Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation (Dynamotive), Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), GE, IFPEN, Renewable Oil Corporation (ROC), Virgin Australia​


Achievements to date

The project published its first report in May 2014, which provides an interim sustainability assessment showing that the production of biofuel from mallee complies with the RSB’s 12 principles for alternative fuel sustainability certification.


The sustainability assessment was applied to established farm operations, with mallee planted specifically for jet fuel manufacture, over the period 2021–2051.


Results show that the mallee jet fuel obtained through the pyrolysis pathway achieves about 40% emissions reductions compared to conventional jet fuel. Further R&D and modeling are required to achieve the 50% threshold of the RSB standard.


The analysis did not evidence detrimental impacts on surface or groundwater resources. Mallee has also a positive impact on biodiversity and could be favourable to reduce soil erosion.


The business plan of mallee production is still investigated. Existing data show that the cost of jet fuel produced from mallee is currently not competitive with conventional jet fuel, but there are evidence that the costs are converging and mallee biomass could be cost competitive by the 2021.


The report is available on Future Farm Industries CRC website​.


Contact information

  • Dr John McGrath, Future Farm Industries CRC: john.mcgrath@futurefarmcrc.com.au