EADS backs algae over 2G plant biofuels

Airbus parent company EADS is backing algae as the best source of sustainable jet fuel, arguing that other feedstocks will not allow the airline industry to meet its carbon-footprint reduction goals. EADS chief technical officer Jean Botti said that while second-generation, plantderived biofuels from plant feedstocks like camelina and jatropha promise substantial life-cycle carbon dioxide […]


Airbus parent company EADS is backing algae as the best source of sustainable jet fuel, arguing that other feedstocks will not allow the airline industry to meet its carbon-footprint reduction goals.

EADS chief technical officer Jean Botti said that while second-generation, plantderived biofuels from plant feedstocks like camelina and jatropha promise substantial life-cycle carbon dioxide reductions, CO2 is still produced during the processing of the oil into jet fuel.

“We absolutely need to push thirdgeneration biofuels made from algae,” he said noting that only algae can be produced without competing with food for land or water.

“To grow algae, you need a lot of CO2. If you can sequester the CO2 from fuel production, you can use it to grow the algae, so the total value chain is a balanced equation. You do not produce more CO2,” he says.

EADS is investing research and technology funds in algal biofuels because “we are the architects and we have to push the industry to align with the aircraft of the future,” says Botti. “Third-generation biofuels are the Plan B to kerosene.”

Botti says the goal is to have 15 per cent of all commercial aviation fuel derived from algae by 2030. “The first studies show it to be a very compatible fuel, requiring minimum changes to the engine,” he says.