For Immediate Release

September 25, 2009
Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: (202) 267-3883

Supporting Solutions for Secure and Sustainable Aviation


Background

The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) seeks to enhance energy resources and environmental sustainability for aviation through alternative jet fuels. CAAFI is a coalition of the U.S. commercial aviation community that acts as a focal point for engaging the emerging alternative fuels industry. It enables its diverse stakeholders to build relationships, share and collect needed data, identify resources, and direct research, development and deployment of alternative fuels.

CAAFI’s sponsors include the FAA office of Environment and Energy and three trade associations:  Airports Council International of North America (ACI-NA) representing commercial airports, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) representing U.S. manufacturers, and the Air Transport Association representing U.S. airlines. CAAFI stakeholders are drawn from all elements of the international commercial aviation industry, fuel suppliers, universities, and multiple U.S. government agencies.

Goals

CAAFI’s goal is to promote the development of alternative fuel options that offer equivalent levels of safety and compare favorably with petroleum-based jet fuel on a cost and environmental basis, with the specific goal of enhancing security of the nation’s energy supply.

Mission

Aviation is well positioned to pursue alternative fuels. The industry is international in scope, highly networked within its supply chain, and has a unique capacity to function in an aligned and coordinated manner.

CAAFI stakeholders have working teams in four areas:

  • Fuel Certification and Qualification;
  • Research and Development;
  • Environment; and
  • Business and Economics.

Stakeholders meet to update alternative fuel developments to identify gaps and hurdles, and decide on the next steps required for the earliest possible development and deployment of jet fuel alternatives.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Approval by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International for a broad range of synthetic non-petroleum jet fuels known as ASTM D7566. This is the first new jet fuel specification in two decades and allows synthetic hydrocarbons (i.e., produced from coal, gas or biomass) with the same characteristics as jet fuel to be used as jet fuel. A synthetic fuel known as SASOL did receive earlier approval from one specific plant in South Africa. However this new ASTM approval means a broader range of fuel producers, using a broader range of feedstock, can now supply jet fuel to users with confidence that it can be used and purchased.
  • Convened 30 energy suppliers and 20 jet fuel users in a workshop at the Department of Commerce in September 2008. The meeting was a first step in developing the relationship between the airlines and fuel producers – clarifying the needs and requirements of each. Since that time, deals have been reached and continue to be negotiated. Recently this dialogue resulted in a deal between a fuel producer and eight airlines to supply renewable diesel to ground service equipment at Los Angeles International Airport.
  • Engaged aviation fuel users, government investors (e.g., USDA and Department of Energy), and private investors in common dialogue. Essentially we have highlighted the needs and capabilities of the aviation community as consumers of jet fuel and as a technical research and development community that can support the introduction of alternative fuels. This work further aligns all interests in order to get alternative fuels into airplanes.
  • Enabled new Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) project to evaluate alternative fuel production facility “siting” requirements on or near airports. The production of alternative fuels requires large scale chemical processing, a hydrogen source, and high energy inputs, as well as transportation accessibility for arrival of fuel feedstock and good post-processing distribution facilities (pipelines, railway, highways, etc.). In some cases blending will occur on site as well, and therefore some facilities will co-located with petroleum facilities.
  • Focused international and interagency cooperation and alignment among U.S. government agencies, other states, and with the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization. This has resulted in sharing information among agencies and developing partnerships for encouraging production and deployment of alternative fuels.
  • Created unified research and development “roadmaps,” bio-fuel feedstock “roadmaps,” and a Fuel Readiness Level (FRL) scale to inform investment decision by the public and private sectors. The feedstock “roadmap” provides a timeline for availability of various feedstock for production of jet fuels and identifies unmet needs in research and development, which can direct investment and attention to appropriate workable activities. The FRL scale provides an object measure of how close a particular alternative fuel or feedstock is to successful deployment for jet fuel production.

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