17th August, 2012
FRANKFURT: As one of the world’s major producers of palm oil, Malaysia would certainly be interested to know that German airlines, Lufthansa, is looking at palm oil-based biofuel as an option to reduce carbon footprint.
Some of the possible resources for use as biofuel included vegetable oils derived from rapeseed, jatropha, camelina, palm and algae.
Experiments conducted in the course of research and development efforts by Lufthansa had shown that such vegetable-oil based fuel would not create any technical problems when used.
“The engine condition monitoring showed reduction in fuel consumption. The aircraft components were in perfect condition,” said Daniel Riefer, Project Manager (Aviation Biofuel) Lufthansa AG in an interview with Bernama.
He said that the last Airbus flight had taken place on December 27 with the use of biofuel.
A total number of 1,187 flights had been carried out using 1,157 tonnes of biofuel blend and it had made a savings of 1,471 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission.
Some of the advantages of biofuel, Riefer added, included higher energy content, no segregation of biofuel mix in storage tank and “cleaner” biofuel blend’s burning.
Asked if Lufthansa would source its biofuel needs from a palm-oil producing country such as Malaysia, Riefer replied: “That could be a possibility. But we have not yet decided on what vegetable oil based-fuel to use.
“We have done research on biofuels but have not made a formal decision.”
However, Riefer pointed out that they had to follow some general guidelines while sourcing the airline’s vegetable oil biofuel needs.
“We have also a social responsibility. We will ensure recognised sustainability labels. No land use should change from food production to energy crops, and the biodiversity of protected forests should remain untouched,” he added.
Lufthansa, as a member of the UN Global Impact and the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, will also work towards stimulating local infrastructure for production of biofuel.
Its future goals, among others, will be to maintain its position as a market leader in the use of vegetable-oil based biofuel; reduce carbon emissions to support corporate climate strategy; evaluate latest approaches in biofuel technology and profit from promising developments and constantly increase fraction of biofuel used in Lufthansa aircraft without creating additional fuel costs.
Meanwhile, a Lufthansa representative said that their ambition was to make the airline the world’s first “green airline”.
“This will also show that environmental protection is a serious agenda for us,” Bettina Jansen, Head of Environmental Management at Lufthansa Cargo.
Should vegetable oil indeed be used in biofuel production in the future, it could prove to be a game-changing development for the world’s vegetable oil industry.
For, with Lufthansa’s use of such a fuel, other airlines are almost certainly going to follow the German airline’s example because its topmost priority is to effect savings in terms of fuel consumption and reducing carbon-dioxide emission.
Like Malaysia, the two other major Southeast Asian supplying nations, Thailand and Indonesia, will also be closely watching further developments in this context.