Azul conducts demonstration flight with Amyris biojet fuel

By Amyris Inc. | June 20, 2012

Azul Brazilian Airlines, in partnership with Amyris Inc., Embraer and GE made a demonstration flight June 19 using an innovative, renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane. The Embraer E195 jet operated by Azul departed from Campinas Viracopos Airport, flew over Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the U.N. Conference for Sustainable Development this week, and landed at Rio's Santos Dumont Airport.

Known as Azul+Verde ("a greener blue" in Portuguese), this project began in November 2009 with the objective of evaluating a new concept in the development of a renewable jet fuel that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to providing an alternative to fossil fuels, the initiative represents another major step towards a sustainable air transportation industry.

“Azul's commitment to reducing our dependency on volatile petroleum products goes beyond reducing our costs,” said Flavio Costa, chief operating officer of Azul Airlines. “The main objective is to innovate in our service offerings, using the best technologies to reduce our carbon footprint as well as raise awareness among our customers that they are not just choosing an airline that is merely concerned about the environment but is taking steps to preserve it.”

A life-cycle analysis and sustainability study developed by a Brazilian think-tank, Institute for International Trade Negotiations indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82 percent, when compared to convention fossil-derived jet fuel.

“Amyris' renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications. To that end, we have successfully undertaken a series of tests that measure its performance," said John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris. “This demonstration flight caps a major milestone in our jet fuel program and [allows] us to pursue our certification and commercialization goals.”

This fuel, referred to as AMJ 700, is made using modified microorganisms that function as living factories, converting sugar into pure renewable hydrocarbon. Such a process results in a renewable jet fuel that, once approved, will meet the most rigorous requirements of the aviation industry as well as the American Society for Testing and Materials.

“Developed as drop-in, the renewable jet fuel did not require any modification or adaptation in the aircraft for the demonstration flight," said Mauro Kern, executive vice president for technology and engineering at Embraer. “The tests undertaken by Embraer with Amyris' renewable jet fuel in Brazil were a success. This confirms the potential performance of this renewable fuel, whether on technical or environmental grounds. We are pleased with the technical success of this project and remain committed with the development of leading technologies, such as renewable fuels, that can contribute with the sustainability of the aviation industry.”

“During our ground tests at GE's engine testing facility in Ohio earlier this year, the Amyris renewable fuel met all the required test objectives, and, in combination with our latest GE engine technologies, can further help the aviation industry meet its environmental targets for net greenhouse gas reductions,” said Steve Csonka, GE aviation director of environmental strategy and ecomagination.

“Azul greatly believes in Amyris’ technology,”said Adalberto Febeliano, director of institutional relations at Azul Airlines. “Brazil has abundant arable land, which allows for the growing of sugarcane in ways that do not displace other crops, such as food. We expect that it will be possible to adopt this renewable fuel in commercial flights in the medium term, with a large-scale production economically viable.”

This project had institutional support from Banco Pine, BR Aviation, Total, and the Inter-American Development Bank.


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