Aerospace & Defense

Boeing Joins Embraer for Biofuel Research

Boeing 747
Source: Courtesy of Boeing Co.
The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has been working hard to wring every last mileage inch out of a drop of aviation fuel. Advanced engine designs and composite body panels have made a big dent in the cost of fuel for the airlines, and now the Chicago-based company is teaming up with Brazil’s Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ) to open a research center in Brazil to work on a sustainable biofuel for the aviation industry.

According to Monday’s press release, the two firms will “address gaps in a supply chain for sustainable aviation biofuel in Brazil, such as feedstock production and processing technologies.” Aviation biofuel emits 50% to 80% less carbon through its lifecycle than does petroleum jet fuel, according to the announcement, and more than 1,500 passenger flights using biofuel have been conducted since the fuel was first approved for use in 2011.

Aviation biofuel is made from a variety of feedstocks, from algae to jatropha and camelina, all of which need space to grow and efficient processing plants to convert to fuel. The global aviation industry contributes 2% of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions and 12% of all transportation-related CO2 emissions, according to the Air Transport Action Group. If commercial aviation were able to source just 6% of its fuel supply from biofuels by 2020, the industry’s carbon footprint would be reduced by 5%.

Boeing shares traded up 1.5% at $132.62 in the late morning Monday. The stock’s 52-week range is $94.10 to $144.57.

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