Thursday 31 July 2014

GE backs aviation biofuel from eucalypt trees

Mallee-Gums

A consortium of local and global companies is behind a move to develop the use of Australia’s gumtrees to produce an aviation biofuel.

The aviation industry, airlines in particular, is becoming increasingly focused on carbon emissions as emissions trading schemes (ETS) are set up around the world, and more and more people take to the skies.

A consortium of companies here is taking action by using eucalypt trees to develop a commercial biofuel for the Australian aviation industry.

“Innovation and creativity will play enormous roles as part of the transition to a low carbon future,” said Ben Waters, director of ecomagination, GE Australia and New Zealand.

GE announced it was joining Virgin Australia and other partners to research and develop the commercial biofuel.

The focus will be on using a thermo chemical decomposition of organic material, at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen, to covert Mallee eucalypt trees to the biofuel.

Mr Waters said a pilot biofuel production unit would be opened in Australia next year.

“We already invest a huge amount in the development of more efficient and alternative energy sources in the aviation industry and beyond, and we hope to bring a huge amount of knowledge to this partnership,” he said.

A recent CSIRO report estimated the aviation industry could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent, generate more than 12,000 jobs and reduce Australia’s reliance on aviation fuel imports by $2 billion a year over the next 20 years through the adoption of biofuels.

Other members of the consortium include Renewable Oil Corporation, the Future Farm Industries CRC, and Canadian biofuels company, Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation.

 

24 Comments

  1. John Ashton says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right.
    We’re committed to deforestation to so aeroplanes don’t pollute.

    Sounds like robbing to Peter to pay Paul.

    “Renewable Oil Corporation”? What the….?

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    • XAROS says:

      We need to be open minded, and, win the war. Not focus on a few irelevant skirmishes. We need to accept that technology can bring good news. While we need to be honest with each other; and, each of us to be less of a burden on the earth, good news coming from the “other side” must be accepted as being equally good for the earth. A globe that uses less electricity, cotton that uses less pesticides, aeroplanes that use less fuel, growing 25% of your food in your back yard are all good news stories.
      I have “invented” a thing that I want to gift to you all and the earth.
      If you live in southern part of Australia and want to do something for your self, the people around you, and the earth, go and buy some of those cheap jumbers made from recycled plastic bottles; wear your jumber, invite your neighbours over to talk, tell stories and laugh. Turn off the TV.
      Tell your friends to turn off the heating while they are away from their homes.
      Become very friendly sit close to each other. Be positive about life, especially if you are not hungry, count your blessings. If all the laughter warms you up, turn off the heating. If you are a little sour and cant laugh and get warm, every hour go for a brisk 300 metre walk down the street and back again. If you are still cold, hug or sit next to one of the hot people. The more people you know the less mental problems you will have, and, you may find out that the “bogeymen” do not exist.
      People with friends are a warm minority in Australia, we are a very sad and cold country, that is why we need all those heaters.
      The heating power of laughter is free, and enviromentally friendly.

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      • David Realist says:

        What in the world is a jumber?

        Maybe it is a wood chip that has been turned into Aviation Fuel subsequent to the morally corrupt (according to the Greens) practice of turning wood chips into paper, which of course is recyclable and renewable.

        Or maybe when spelled correctly, jumper, in contrast to a warm upper body garment, jumper may now enter our vocabulary as referring to a pseudo-intellectual, with an excess of emotion genes who typically votes for the Greens. How can we possibly grow all those gum trees — after all that intellectual giant Tim Flannery has decreed it will not rain in the future. Rats another dead end for the Watermelons in Tasmania.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The Bio-fuel process using large scale crops like corn for example produces very near the same amount of fuel that it expends making it, it’s probably likely that the fuel needed to chop down large gum trees, haulage and processing would exceed the amount of the fuel produced….not a good idea, by the way “jumperguy” you need to get your head out of your arse, lay off the bongs and go set fire to a logging truck or something if you really want to help the enviroment…long live E.L.F!!

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  2. Fiona McCrossin says:

    The article is not clear re source of the timber. Are they planning to use plantation forests – eucalypts planted specifically for this purpose? Please don’t confirm that they are going to continue one of the biggest lies in Australian history – the woodchip industry!!!

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  3. Moira Graham says:

    Our forests are one of the best storers of carbon, please do not cut them down just to make the hugh airline companies feel good, short term. They should be putting more resourses into finding a clean, sustainable fuel.

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  4. Michele says:

    I too have not read anywhere regarding where the trees will come from. We cannot sacrifice anymore of our forests for this or any other purpose. As for plantation; monocultures are not proving to be so safe for the environment either. And as Moira says; our forests store carbon.

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    • David Realist says:

      Unfortunately mature (old growth forest) trees are a net contributor of CO2 not Carbon.

      Carbon results when the National Parks explode into a fireball after the Greens have prevented hazard reduction for decades.

      Will the Carbon Tax apply to bush fires? Who will be responsible for the payment? The Greens of course.

      New (growing) Forest absorbs CO2 which is a plant food not a pollutant.

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      • correction says:

        The carbon tax will not apply to bush fires. It is meant to affect heavily polluting industry, not forests.

        They are some of the greatest carbon stores on the planet. Obviously there will be CO2 emissions, but they are natural and have not affected the climate in the past. The real cause of climate change is the extra manmade emissions that have only peaked in the last century, as have warmer climates and wilder weather-worrying, because apparently we should be in an ice age. Climate change will cause more bush fires, and therefore more emissions.

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  5. David Twomey says:

    Some info we have gleaned on what is proposed:
    The development will focus on pyrolytic conversion of biomass from mallee eucalypt trees grown as biomass. Using mallee biomass to create second generation biofuels is considered an important regional development initiative, with various green benefits. Farmers who grow mallees for fuel can use them to help prevent soil erosion, to feed and shelter native fauna, and as carbon offsets. And they avoid the use of food crops to make fuel. Biofuel is derived from the mallee trees through the breakdown of lignins and cellulose that are not digestible by humans. This can be done using processes ranging from the use of heat under anaerobic conditions (“fast pyrolysis”), through chemical breakdown to the potential use of enzymes. Fast pyrolysis is an established process that converts many forms of biomass into a crude oil (bio-oil) along with char and gas. The char can be put to use either as a reductant in metallurgical processing or for improving soil. The bio-oil is upgraded in a second refining process to produce diesel, aviation fuel and petrol.

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  6. John Ashton says:

    Again, David Twomey does not seem to be answering the prime question posed above:
    Are these trees grown then felled, or are the leaves stripped or what?
    Claiming that they “feed and shelter native fauna” only has credibility if the forest is preserved in such away that various generations can feel safe in creating communities and that won’t happen if there is continuing culling of the trees.
    As yet, very unconvincing and one has to have the radar up for fuel corps who try and play the green card.

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  7. David Twomey says:

    John,
    As you would see above the information I posted was not meant as a definitive answer but just some information we were able to gather.
    We will keep an eye on the developments and certainly provide any and all the information we are able to garner on this matter.
    I agree that one has to be watchful and aware of those who seek to look green while being anything but.

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  8. Matt Gill says:

    Seriously are they for real? they’re going to cut down trees, of which we don’t have enough of & take CO2 out of the atmosphere & turn it into oxygen, to make a bio-aviation fuel that is only going to emit 17% less CO2. The trees that they’ll use to make this fuel would probably take more than that 17% of CO2 out of the atmosphere. How stupid are these people?

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  9. Ron Horgan says:

    Mallee trees grow from a lignotuber and can be harvested by coppicing. That is the suckers can be harvested without killing the tree. They will grow in arid conditions on poor quality land. By using biofuel the carbon dioxide is recycled within the biosphere, not added fossil carbon which is the problem.
    My concern is the rate of growth of the sustainable biomass versus the demand for biofuel. What tonnage of trees are needed for an hours flying time?

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  10. John Ashton says:

    Thank you Ron Horgan;
    You answered my questions as to “harvesting” and raised the yet to be answered one about how demand will affect supply to the point of:
    Land use to keep planes in the air at the expense of land use for food and at one point does the carbon equation create a “biofuel monoculture.”?

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  11. NMO says:

    The “recent” CSIRO report is titled

    “Flight path to Sustainable Aviation”

    it was released 23 of MAY 2001

    It is available at
    http://www.csiro.au/resources/sustainable-aviation-fuel-report.html

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  12. David Twomey says:

    NMO,
    Will try to link back to source reports where possible.
    BTW the CSIRO report you refer to was released in May 2011

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  13. XAROS says:

    We spend a hundred years clearing the thistles from Victorian paddocks and all for nothing. Similar to clearing Red Cedar trees for farmland when proper management could have produced greater wealth.
    The European Union is encouraging the growing of Thistles as Bio Mass to generate electricity.
    We were blind to a resource?
    All the hard work year after year.
    We bought Coal from the Goverment mine, when we could have used the Thistles for free.

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  14. Fiona McCrossin says:

    Hi to David Twomey. Any update on this? NB life cycle of the mallee eucalypts and the species with which they interact.

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  15. Andrew says:

    A lot of commenters are wondering where the trees will come from. It’s obviously better that this come from plantations, but in any case it will cause conversion of land for these plantations and drive up the prices of food and wood pulp. wood pulp price increases lead to greater pressure on native forest.

    I note that this article avoids discussing the fact that we are talking about genetically engineered trees here. Biofuel producers want low lignin, high cellulose trees. Australians are likely to be concerned that this implies a substantially increased fire risk.

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    • David Realist says:

      I have an answer, plant by rows.

      You know, a row of solar cells, a row of wind turbines, a row of corn for ethanol and a row of lignotubers growing from eucalyptus stumps. Fertilized with the biomass from the Greens.

      And it could all be planted in the side streets of Glebe because they do not need cars. The population could just ride their bikes to Mascot to get on the plane to go to the soy bean & blues festival in Tasmania every autumn.

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  16. Maat says:

    HAHA – Yes G.E. a major US military industrial company really cares about the Australian Enviroment! HAHA is anyone here buying this tripe?

    Has anyone forgotten they are a major designer & manufacturer of nuclear power plants???

    The mainstream green movement seems to belive anything thats shovelled their way….

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