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Sustainability

KLM to scale up biobased jet fuel

Dutch airline and partners to build Europe’s first dedicated facility

by Melody M. Bomgardner
May 29, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 22

09722-buscon4-jetfuel.jpg
Credit: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
An airport worker fuels a KLM jet with biobased fuel.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is joining with fuel maker SkyNRG and propane distributor SHV Energy to build what they say will be Europe’s first facility dedicated to sustainable aviation fuel. The plant, expected to open in 2022, will be located in Delfzijl, the Netherlands.

In addition to investing in the plant, KLM has committed to buying 75,000 metric tons per year of the fuel for 10 years. The fuel, which like all jet fuels is similar to kerosene, will be made from regional waste sources, including used cooking oil. The Delfzijl facility will also produce biobased propane and naphtha.

The partners aim to make fuel with 85% less CO2 emissions compared with fossil fuel. To do that, they plan to power the facility with sustainable hydrogen from a facility operated by specialty chemicals firm Nouryon and pipeline operator Gasunie. The facility uses renewable power to split water via electrolysis.

“For us and our partners, this project is an important milestone in further upscaling the market for sustainable aviation fuel,” says Maarten van Dijk, executive director of SkyNRG.

Use of the green jet fuel will reduce KLM’s CO2 emissions by 200,000 metric tons per year, an amount equal to emissions from 1,000 flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro, according to KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. All airlines operating in Europe are part of the EU’s emissions trading system.

In the US, the largest purchaser of sustainable jet fuel is United Airlines. Its flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport get their fuel from California’s AltAir Fuels facility, which uses animal fat, plant oil, and used cooking oil as feedstocks.

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