Boeing Saddles up With China to Turn "Gutter Oil" to Jet Fuel
October 24, 2012 3:16 PM
The red giant is looking to "go green"
The Chinese government has struggled with so-called "gutter oil". Formed from used cooking oil -- or sometimes from vat-cooked rotten or discarded animal parts -- the low-quality oil is often resold to unsuspecting customers who then use it to cook customers' food. Gutter oil is hard to identify, but it does come with some dire health effects like diarrhea and abdominal pain. Worse, some evidence indicates it can cause cancer in adults and developmental disabilities in children.
A joint research institute founded by China's state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and the world's largest aerospace company,
The Boeing Comp
), is aiming to provide a legal alternative by refining gutter oil into biofuel that can be used to fuel aircraft.
In August the pair founded the
Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute
(BASTRI) -- an institute that collaborates with Chinese universities on cutting edge aerospace research. BASTRI's Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center will be
with a Chinese green energy company -- Hangzhou Energy Engineering & Technology, Comp., Ltd., (HEET) -- on its first major project, the jet biofuel initiative.
Dong Yang Wu, vice president of Boeing Research & Technology - China - commented, "HEET is a strong partner for the Boeing-COMAC technology center's 'gutter oil' research project. We are excited about opportunities to partner with leading research capabilities in China to accelerate the global push for renewable jet fuels and support commercial aviation's growth while reducing its environmental footprint.
Amid a health epidemic caused by so-called "gutter oil", China's state owned aircraft company hopes to push merchants to instead reprocess the waste oil into jet fuel.
[Image Source: eChinacities]
Currently, China uses 29 million tons of cooking oil a year, while also consuming 20 million tons of jet fuel. With demand for jet fuel on the rise, there's a strong impetus to find affordable ways to convert China's massive stock of waste oil to fuel for aircraft.
Qin Fuguang, president of BASTRI, COMAC, comments, "China is the world's fastest growing aviation market and the biggest consumer of cooking oil. There's great potential for converting the waste cooking oil into sustainable aviation fuel. It's a good opportunity for Boeing, HEET and COMAC to work together and make efforts to protect the environment."
China is not alone in pursuing biofuels for use as jet fuel. The U.S. military has been
testing aircraft biofuels
Air New Zealand
have all been testing flights powered by biofuel, as well. The issue of fuel expenses is a particularly sore issue for the U.S. where
causes the U.S. airline industry to have to pay $275M USD more per year than their foreign peers.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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