Environment

Boeing opens cooking-oil-to-biofuel plant in China

China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners (Photo: Shutterstock)
China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners (Photo: Shutterstock)
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China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners (Photo: Shutterstock)
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China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners (Photo: Shutterstock)

Two years ago, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner became the first biofuel-powered aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. It was actually running on a biofuel/regular jet fuel mix, with the biofuel derived mainly from used cooking oil. Now, in the interest of ensuring a consistent supply of that biofuel, Boeing has partnered with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) to produce it in a pilot plant.

Known as the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project, the facility was officially opened yesterday. It will be using technology developed by Hangzhou Energy & Engineering Technology Co. to remove contaminants from used cooking oil, and then convert that oil into aviation biofuel.

It is expected to do so at a rate of 160 US gallons (650 liters) per day. That said, Boeing and COMAC estimate that if sufficient facilities existed, up to 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of the biofuel could be produced annually in China.

For the time being, though, the single pilot plant will be used to "assess the technical feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes of biofuel."

Source: Boeing

8 comments
Slowburn
It would be smarter to just build some diesel powered vehicles with the heated fuel system and over sized filters to burn the waste oil.
Nols Smit
Yes, and later on the stratosphere will smell like fish & chips !
Luís Pedro Correia
650 liters daily means 234.000 liters yearly, probably not enough for a single Boeing 787 voyage! This is irrelevant, this is only Public Relations!
gary1958
Anything that helps is a good idea. But there is a more abundant material that can produce 120 to 135 gallons of Ethanol per ton. (Ethanol can be used as vehicle fuel). And the dried byproduct can be pressed into briquettes and can be burned for heat or electricity generation and has a higher calorific value than that of mined coal. What is it? Human waste. We flush it down the drain. Do you know who is funding this? No. I do not know either. No one gives a #### well you get the idea. Anyone interested in funding email me: garyjmcneish@gmail.com
Joel Reed
Right U are, Slobrn, you should smell the exhaust from my biodiesel Mercedes. If your fishnchips smell like that, they're burnt. Change the oil in your deep fryer more often AND give it to a backyard Greasel Ratt.
Slowburn
@ Joel Reed Don't forget that if you need fuel where you can't get old cooking oil the same modification allows the use of summer weight diesel in arctic conditions.
Gadgeteer
You guys don't get it. Jet-A costs a lot more than diesel. Nobody in their right mind would use cooking oil to replace diesel if they can replace a more expensive fuel. Airlines would kill to cut costs significantly. It's not about finding a way to get rid of used oil, but finding a way of getting a cheaper, greener fuel for aircraft. And this is a pilot plant to find out problems before going into full production, not "PR" as one person above alleged.
Slowburn
@ Gadgeteer Used cooking oil is just A tiny trickle compared to the amount of jet fuel consumed and by the time you add the energy costs of collecting it there is no way that making a fuel that sells for twice as much as diesel will be cost effective where as diesel fueled trucks are already where the fuel is and it would not take more than a couple hundred kilos of equipment on the truck to load and filter the fuel.
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