Iberia and Repsol staged Monday Spain’s first commercial flight powered by biofuel. An Iberia Airbus A320 flying from Madrid to Barcelona burned some 2,600 kg of a mixture of conventional A-1 jet fuel and biofuel derived from the camelina sativa plant. The use of the mixture resulted in a reduction of nearly 1,500 kg of C02 emissions.
The second-generation biofuel is a mixture made by ASA of synthesized paraffin bio-kerosene produced by Honeywell-UOP and evaluated and certified by Repsol at its Technology Centre, which allows for an almost 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel has the same characteristics as A-1 jet fuel generally used in aviation and has a 25% content of biofuel made from Camelina sativa, an inedible oil plant that grows widely and can be cultivated in Spain.
Iberia provided the aircraft, crew, handling services, etc. for the test. For ground assistance, Iberia used the iON Peugeot electric vehicles it is now testing for airport use.
Iberia also supplied the technical and maintenance services at La Muñoza, near Madrid Barajas airport, where the airplane was fueled. Together with the Airbus Company and the engine manufacturers Iberia has closely monitored the technical and operational certification of this new biofuel.
Repsol produced and delivered the fuel, which was evaluated under high-performance conditions and approved at its research facility. The company has long experience in the development of biofuels at its Technology Centre, one of the most advanced of its kind in Europe and where a number of investigations in this field are currently under way.
The flight was a part of Spain’s pioneering “Green Flight” project, which started in February 2011, to advance in the use of biofuels in aviation.
The use of such fuel is part of Iberia’s strategic plan, which contains a number of measures intended to combat climate change.
Iberia’s chairman Antonio Vázquez commented that “Iberia is proud to contribute our experience as an airline and an aircraft maintenance company to this initiative. The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face, and biofuels are essential for reducing our reliance on oil, increasing our competitiveness, and achieving the ambitious emissions-reduction targets set by the airline industry.” Iberia has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and for last three years has been listed as the top scorer in the industry in environmental indices.
Repsol’s Downstream division Director General Pedro Fernandez Frial said the biofuel-powered flight “is another step for Repsol in its commitment to sustainable mobility, driving the development of second-generation biofuels.” He added that Repsol’s New Energy unit “is contributing to the vision of a more diversified and sustainable energy future.” The Spanish oil company’s sustainability policies have earned it worldwide recognition, and this year Dow Jones has listed it the world’s most transparent and sustainable oil company for its strategy to combat climate change through sustainable refining and the making of clean fuels, among many other initiatives.
Following the successful flight, the two companies will consider new initiatives allowing them to advance in the research, development and use of biofuels in commercial aviation.