Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative
Executive Director, Emeritus
|Richard L. Altman|
|Affiliations||Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), Airlines for America (A4A), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA|
CAAFI (Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative) is a cooperative effort among interested stakeholders to bring commercially viable, environmentally sustainable alternative aviation fuels (e.g., aviation biofuel) to market. The potential of these fuels to reduce airline CO2 emissions is anticipated to complement and possibly exceed reductions from technical and operational improvements. CAAFI is co-sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), the Airlines for America (A4A) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). CAAFI consists of approximately 450 organizations and more than 800 stakeholders. These include members of other U.S. and non-U.S. government agencies and trade associations, as well as energy producers, university faculty, nongovernmental organizations and consultants. CAAFI functions as a clearinghouse, facilitating the exchange of information about and coordination of private-sector and governmental initiatives supporting the development and commercialization of "drop-in" alternative aviation fuels (i.e., fuels that can directly supplement or replace petroleum-derived jet fuels). CAAFI is also exploring the long-term potential of other fuel options.
Function and focus
CAAFI primarily serves as a means of exchanging information and coordinating stakeholder efforts. This is done through the holding of technical workshops, outreach to domestic and international aviation, energy, and financial industry forums, and communication with the news media. CAAFI participants are evaluating alternative jet fuels in teams focused in four areas:
Fuel Certification and Qualification--to ensure the safety of any alternative fuels given the demanding environment posed by aviation operations, participants have created a new jet fuels approval process via the ASTM International standard setting body. Fuel approval enables the safe use of alternative jet fuels and guarantee manufacturer, user and regulatory confidence in them. Three alternative jet fuel production pathways have been approved to date with seven others in progress (see Certification and Qualification of Alternative Jet Fuels section below).
Research and Development--to improve understanding of the broad range of new fuel production technologies and feedstocks that can be applied to aviation, participants are sharing analyses and identifying and coordinating research activities.
Environment--to assess the spectrum of environmental impacts of any alternative fuel options developed, participants are working to measure engine emissions that affect air quality and quantify the full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the fuel production process including feedstock extraction and transport, fuel processing, fuel distribution and land use changes.
Business and Economics--to facilitate the deployment of alternative jet fuels in the marketplace, participants are connecting fuel producers and consumers, evaluating the business case for use of alternative jet fuel, and identifying opportunities for deployment.
CAAFI participants meet regularly to update the state of alternative jet fuel developments in these areas, identify gaps and hurdles, and decide on next steps required in the research, development and deployment process.
Since its inception, CAAFI has provided various materials and tools on the CAAFI official website created to assist its stakeholders and facilitate jet biofuel production and commercialization. In 2009, CAAFI developed the Fuel Readiness Level (FRL), which received praise from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a best practice. The FRL is a fuel-specific progression chart, closely modeled after the Technology Readiness Level and Manufacturing Readiness Level. Shortly after the FRL was released, the need for a feedstock-specific progression chart was recognized and a complementary Feedstock Readiness Level (FSRL) was generated through a CAAFI effort led by the FAA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) in 2011. A more recent CAAFI document, Guidance for Selling Alternative Fuels to Airlines, was endorsed by Biofuels Digest for its completeness in its coverage of jet biofuel commercialization. Other CAAFI materials include the Environmental Sustainability Overview, Environmental Progression (parallels FRL and FSRL), and CAAFI® ASTM D4054 Users' Guide.
Certification and Qualification of Alternative Jet Fuels
Currently, three drop-in alternative jet fuels have been certified through ASTM, International with the help of the CAAFI Certification and Qualification Team, including,
Fischer-Tropsch (FT) Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK). Synthetic fuels derived from the Fischer-Tropsch processing of gas, coal, or biomass have been certified for use in commercial engines at a blend of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel as of 2009.
Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA). Synthetic fuels derived from the upgrading of oils (e.g., plant oils and animal fats) to hydrocarbons have been certified for use in commercial engines at a blend of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel as of 2011.
Synthesized Iso-Paraffins (SIP). Farnesane derived from hydroprocessed fermented sugars has been certified for use in commercial engines at a blend of up to 10% with conventional jet fuel as of June 2014.
A queue has been established to regulate the sequence in which the current roster of alternative fuels and additives will be reviewed by the Original Engine Manufacturers (OEMs). This queue has been sent to the Task Forces / fuel producers showing them the process and their standing in line. A research report on Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) was formally submitted to the OEMs in April 2015 for engineering review. The OEMs must complete their review by June 1, 2015, which will be followed by balloting for approval. Other alternative fuel pathways in the queue include Hydrotreated Deploymerized Cellulosic Jet (HDCJ), HEFA Co-processing in existing refineries, Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH), Synthesized Aromatic Kerosene (SAK), Synthesized Kerosene (SK), and Isoparaffinic Kerosene with Aromatics (IPK/A).
Over the years, CAAFI and its leaders have been distinguished for their work. Despite aviation biofuel representing only a segment of the bioenergy market, multiple representatives from CAAFI's leadership—Richard L. Altman (Executive Director Emeritus), Nathan Brown (Head Advisor for Strategy and Implementation), Steve Csonka (Executive Director), and Nancy Young (Environment Co-lead)—were named to Biofuel Digest’s Top 125 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy 2015. In 2011, CAAFI was recognized with the Washington DC Chapter of Advancing Women in Transportation Innovative Solutions Award and the Washington Airports Task Force Williams Trophy. Air Transport World honored CAAFI with its Joseph S. Murphy Industry Service Award in 2010. That same year, CAAFI's Dr. Kristin Lewis (Head Research & Technical Advisor) was recognized with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her contribution to CAAFI.
CAAFI engages with various international organizations through partnerships and conferences. In 2011, CAAFI and the Australian Initiative for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (AISAF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to combine efforts and share information where possible. In yet another partnership, CAAFI and the Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany (AIREG) have worked closely since AIREG’s founding in 2011. More recently in 2013, CAAFI and Spanish alternative jet fuel stakeholder Bioquereseno were mentioned as key partners when the FAA and its Spanish counterpart signed a Declaration of Cooperation. CAAFI representatives have participated in numerous conferences around the world including the Paris Air Show, the Australian International Airshow, the UK Air Show, the Farnborough International Airshow, and the European Fuels Conference.
Steve Csonka - CAAFI Executive Director
Richard L. Altman - CAAFI Executive Director, Emeritus
Nate Brown - FAA, Head Strategy & Implementation Advisor
Dr. Kristin Lewis - DOT Volpe Center, Head Research & Technical Advisor
Mark Rumizen - FAA, Certification Lead
Dr. Michael Lakeman - Boeing, R&D Tri-Lead
Dr. Stephen Kramer - Pratt & Whitney, R&D Tri-Lead
DR. Gurhan Andac - GE Aviation, R&D Tri-Lead
Dr. James Hileman - FAA, Environment Co-Lead
Nancy Young - A4A, Environment Co-Lead
Rob Myrben - A4A, Business Co-Lead
Dr. Bruno Miller - Metron Aviation, Business Co-Lead 
The United States Department of Defense and Alternative Fuels
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been a key player in the research, development, and deployment of alternative fuels. This is evidenced by the recent appointment of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs to oversee service-related alternative fuel activities. In its procurement of alternative fuels, the DOD seeks only those that are:
- Demonstrated to have life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions less than or equal to those of their conventional petroleum-based equivalent, as required by Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.
- Considered “drop-in” fuels
- Priced competitively compared to conventional petroleum-based fuels
- Derived from non-food crop feedstock
- In adequate supply
The level of interest and support of alternative fuels, especially those used in aviation, varies among the different military branches.
A CAAFI member, the United States Air Force (USAF) - the U.S. military's largest user of fuel - began exploring alternative fuel sources in 1999. USAF began a flight test program as part of the Department of Defense Assured Fuel Initiative of 2001, an effort to develop secure domestic sources for the military energy needs. The Pentagon set a goal to reduce its use of crude oil from foreign producers and obtain about half of its aviation fuel from alternative sources by 2016. On December 15, 2006, a B-52 took off from Edwards AFB for the first time powered solely by a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and Syntroleum's Fischer-Tropsch (FT) fuel, and the seven-hour flight test was considered a success. The goal of the flight test program was to qualify the fuel blend for fleet use on the service's B-52s, and then test and qualify the fuel blend on other aircraft. In August 2007, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne certified the B-52H as fully approved to use the FT blend. By January 2010, the USAF successfully certified a number of aircraft to use Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) blends: the B-1B, B-52H, C-17, C-130J, F-4, F-15, F-22, and T-38.
The US Navy began their more aggressive pursuit of alternative fuels in 2009, when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus established their energy-conservation goals. The Navy has ambitious goals to unveil the Great Green Fleet (a carrier strike group powered completely by alternative energy sources) by 2016, and supply 50% of their fueling needs with biofuels by 2020. In December 2013, Mabus and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a program to incorporate biofuels into their regular procurement of jet and marine fuels, with first contracts being awarded in 2015. The program is made possible through USDA and Navy coordination, and consequently has taken on the nickname, Farm-to-Fleet. .
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- CAAFI official website
- FAA website
- Airports Council International - North America | The Voice of Airports
- Aerospace Industries Association
- Airlines for America - A4A
- News - Aviation Today - Eco Watch
- News - USA Today - Airlines push for homegrown jet fuel
- News - Slate Magazine - Will greener planes fly?
- News - GreenAir - CAAFI releases guidance document to help alternative aviation fuel producers meet airline requirements
- News - Flightglobal - IN FOCUS: Spotlight shines on biofuel certification amid rising environmental pressure
- News - Flightglobal - Aviation biofuels on verge of official certification
- News - Flightglobal - Working Week: Building the CAAFI Coalition
- News - Flightglobal - Fueling Debate
- News - Flightglobal - Environment forecasts: so far so good
- News - Flightglobal - Great expectations for alternative fuels in 2009
- News - Green Air Online - Alternative aviation jet fuels take a major step forward with agreement on a new standards specification
- News - PR Newswire - Air Transport Association Statement on ATW Recognition of CAAFI Accomplishments