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."