Boeing is said to have completed the world’s first flight using “green diesel,” a sustainable biofuel that is widely available and used in ground transportation. The company powered its ecoDemonstrator 787 flight test airplane yesterday with a blend of 15 percent green diesel and 85 percent petroleum jet fuel in the left engine.
“Green diesel offers a tremendous opportunity to make sustainable aviation biofuel more available and more affordable,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will provide data from several ecoDemonstrator flights to support efforts to approve this fuel for commercial aviation and help meet environmental goals.”
Sustainable green diesel is made from vegetable oils, waste cooking oil and waste animal fats. Boeing previously found that this fuel is chemically similar to HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) aviation biofuel approved in 2011. Green diesel is chemically distinct and a different fuel product than “biodiesel,” which also is used in ground transportation.
With production capacity of 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) in the U.S., Europe and Asia, green diesel could rapidly supply as much as 1 percent of global jet fuel demand. With a wholesale cost of about $3 per gallon, inclusive of U.S. government incentives, green diesel approaches price parity with petroleum jet fuel.
“The airplane performed as designed with the green diesel blend, just as it does with conventional jet fuel,” said Capt. Mike Carriker, Chief Pilot, Product Development and 777X, Boeing Test and Evaluation. “This is exactly what we want to see in flight tests with a new type of fuel.”
The flight test was coordinated with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, and EPIC Aviation blended the fuel.