The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted Sinopec, China’s top oil refiner, a license allowing commercial use of its aviation biofuel in an effort to cut carbon emissions.
The license, the first of its kind to Sinopec, allows the company’s No.1 aviation biofuel to be used by airlines.
CAAC Flight Criteria Department director Xu Chaoqun said the development is a significant breakthrough for the country’s research, production and application of aviation biofuel.
Sinopec started research on aviation biofuel in 2009 and CAAC accepted its application for commercial use in early 2012.
Sinopec can produce 3,000 tonnes of biofuel oil a year from materials such as plant seeds and recycled cooking oil. The regulator noted Sinopec will work to diversify biofuel sources, lower production costs and push forward commercial application of the fuel.
Biofuel is gaining popularity in China. Last April, China Eastern Airlines operated a test flight in Shanghai powered by No.1 aviation biofuel and the fuel went through several rounds of additional strict tests before it received approval. In addition, Air China became the nation’s first carrier to test a flight partly powered by biofuel, the result of a collaboration between PetroChina and Honeywell UOP’s green jet fuel in October 2011.
Industry analysts said the commercial viability of biofuel for use in jets still faces tough challenges because the treatment process of producing biofuel will push the cost up higher than regular fuel refinery.