Boeing plans to collaborate with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and SkyNRG, as well as Canada’s aviation industry and other stakeholders to turn forest waste into sustainable aviation biofuel.

Forest waste includes leftover branches and sawdust.

The consortium, led by UBC and NORAM Engineering and Constructors, will carry out the project.

Boeing, Air Canada, WestJet, Bombardier, research institutions and other industry partners are included in the consortium, which will examine the possibility of using thermochemical processing, while producing sustainable aviation biofuel from forest waste.

Netherland-based SkyNRG, which is a partner in the project already supplies biofuel to more than 20 carriers worldwide.

A Boeing-funded study by UBC discovered that biofuels derived from forest waste can produce 175 million litres of aviation fuel, which is 10% of the total jet fuel required by British Columbia per year.

The study further revealed forest waste biofuels can fulfill demand of ground and marine vehicles, reducing 1t of carbon emission per year.

"Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term."

The project was announced during the Canadian Bioeconomy Conference and received funding from Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN) in Canada, as part of the group’s aviation carbon emissions reduction initiative.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes environmental strategy and integration managing director Julie Felgar said: "Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a critical role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term.

"Canada is in a terrific position to leverage its sustainable forests to make environmental progress for its aviation industry and other transport sectors."

A US Department of Energy study revealed that sustainable biofuel has the capacity to reduce carbon emission by 50% – 80%, compared to petroleum fuel.

Canada has expansive forest areas and long used mill and forest residues that are used to make wood pellets to generate electricity.

Air Canada environmental affairs director Teresa Ehman said: "Air Canada believes that developing a reliable supply of sustainable aviation biofuel in Canada will play a role in achieving our emission reduction goals.

"By utilising Canada’s strong forestry research expertise and the knowledge of industry collaborators, this project will contribute significantly to understanding the viability of forest residue-sourced biofuel."

Image: Waste bark and wood chips at a plywood plant near Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo: courtesy of Nexterra Systems / Boeing.