* Lufthansa to test new jet fuel from US-based Gevo
* Air industry trying to cut CO2 emissions
* Gevo's fuel comes from plant waste
* Partnership boosts Gevo shares
(Adds background, campaigner quote)
By Victoria Bryan
FRANKFURT, April 23 Lufthansa is
testing a new type of biofuel for use in aircraft, the German
carrier said on Wednesday, as the airline industry steps up
efforts to cut its carbon dioxide emissions.
Lufthansa was the first airline worldwide to use biofuels in
commercial flights in 2011, when it used a 50:50 mix of biofuel
- gained from plant oils and animal fats - and regular kerosene
to power one engine per plane on daily flights between Frankfurt
However, the airline ended the trial after six months saying
it was hard to find enough reliable stocks.
Lufthansa said in statement it had teamed up with U.S.-based
Gevo, which produces alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel, to
research the blending of Gevo's ATJ with conventional kerosene
for use in aircraft.
Gevo uses fermented plant waste from a range of sources to
produce isobutanol, a form of alcohol which can then be
converted into kerosene using standard refinery processes.
The company, which is ramping up to commercial isobutanol
production, says this is cheaper than using current biofuel
Producing lower carbon biofuels can be can be six to eight
times more expensive than producing regular jet fuel but they
are seen as a way of helping the aviation industry to cut down
on CO2 emissions.
British Airways is also researching fuels derived
from food waste and Air France-KLM has tried out fuel
made from leftover cooking oil.
However, campaigners say people should be trying to cut back
on food waste and that there isn't enough of such fuel for
fleets of aircraft.
"It's encouraging to see airlines learning the lessons of
the EU's biofuels disaster by looking for alternatives to food
crops for fuel," said Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner for
Friends of the Earth Europe. "But using food waste will not be
enough to power fleets of jumbo jets, and we anyway need to be
cutting down on the mountains of food we throw away, as well as
using it to fertilise our fields."
According to figures from global airline body IATA, air
transport produced 689 million tonnes of CO2 in 2012, accounting
for around 2 percent of global CO2 emissions. The body has set a
target for the industry to reduce net aviation CO2 emissions by
50 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
However, biofuels have stirred debate because they often use
the same crops or agricultural land that could be used for food
to feed people.
The European Union for example, has wavered on a target that
10 percent of all fuels used in transportation should come from
renewable sources by 2020, due to uncertainty over the
environmental credentials of such fuels.
Lufthansa says it only works with biofuels that do not
compete with the food chain. A spokesman on Wednesday stressed
that the Gevo fuel comes only from waste products.
The research is being funded by the European Commission as
part of its Blending Study project. Lufthansa will work with the
German army's Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels
and Lubricants to determine the best proportion of Gevo's fuel
to regular jet fuel ahead of trying to get ATJ kerosene approved
for use in commercial flights.
Shares in Gevo had jumped as much as 55 percent late on
Tuesday, when it made an initial announcement about the
partnership with Lufthansa.
(Editing by Keiron Henderson and David Evans)