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Officials of ENN Biomass Energy Technology Center and EADS/Airbus sign the agreement to develop and test algae-based aviation fuels.

Officials of ENN Biomass Energy Technology Center and EADS/Airbus sign the agreement to develop and test algae-based aviation fuels.


ENN, EADS/Airbus to Collaborate on Algae-based Aviation Fuels

November 17, 2012

China’s ENN and Europe’s EADS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to co-develop microalgae-based aviation fuels. The agreement was made public at the China International Air Show in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

EADS (European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company N.V.) is a global pan-European aerospace and defense corporation – and a leading defense and military contractor worldwide – employing over 133,000 people, and is the parent company of Airbus.

ENN (ENN Energy Service Co., Ltd.), with a current staff of over 27,000, was the first Chinese energy company to bring together the twin concepts of what are called in China the C-economy and intelligent technologies. The idea is that the C in carbon and the C in recycling are meshed with technological innovation to create an economy that produces less of the former and creates opportunities for more of the later.

The scope of the companies’ new collaboration includes technical qualification of aviation fuels based on algae oil and the promotion of their use for aviation in China. “Microalgae are considered to be one of the promising pathways for the production of biofuels for aviation,” said Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer of EADS, who was attending China International Air Show in Zhuhai. “We have already proved that it is technically possible to fly with algae oil. Now we need to demonstrate that the industrial production of algae based biofuel is both ecologically and economically viable.”

With the goal of launching test flights using algae-based jet fuel in 2013, the first phase of the collaboration will focus on testing and analysis as well as the development of tools to assess the environmental, economic and societal impact the technology might have.

“We believe the research achievements on microalgae based aviation fuels would make significant positive impact on accelerating the saving and conservation work and climate change combat of the aviation sector in China.” says Dr. Gan Zhongxue, Chief Technical Officer of ENN about the partnership.

Set up in 2007, ENN Biomass Energy Technology Center has been focused on the research of “CO2-Microalgae-Biodiesel” technology, which was selected as one of the high-tech research programs under National 863 Program in 2009 and passed the acceptance check by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology this September.

After two years of trials, ENN recently established a 5,000 tons/yr Microalgae-Biodiesel Demonstration Project in Inner Mongolia for recycling CO2 from coal-fired power plants and chemical plants as well as bio energy production. ENN has already developed 70 technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights in the fields of biomass energy, such as a light bioreactor and biodiesel production technology. Based in the Hebei province, ENN currently operates a plant capable of producing 10 tons of algae-based oil annually.

Airbus will coordinate the participation of external partners in China, including major engine manufacturers and airlines. “We are privileged to be working with ENN to determine how best we can contribute to a sustainable aviation sector in China,” said Frédéric Eychenne, Airbus New Energies Programme Manager.

Airbus plays an important role in verifying aviation fuel standards in Europe and America, and this new collaboration anticipates that ENN’s microalgae-based biofuels will have great potential to meet the strict aviation fuel standards in Europe.

The company, which employs around 63,000 people at sixteen sites in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, is already leading an ambitious global program connecting farmers, refiners and airlines to form regional sustainable alternative fuel “value chains.” To date, the company has developed six chains in Latin America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with the intent of implementing the practice on every continent.

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