This month’s Airbus-sponsored Algae Biomass Summit attracted more than 600 participants to San Diego, California, in the U.S. with the aim of exploring potential algae-based solutions for global energy‚ environmental‚ and economic issues.
Algae’s high-energy yield, and ability to be grown using land and water unsuitable for ordinary crops or human consumption, make it a promising base material for the manufacture of bio-fuels. Along with industry partners, Airbus is exploring these energy sources as part of its efforts in the development of sustainable, commercially viable alternatives to conventional oil-derived jet fuel.
Selecting the right algae strain to achieve significant, cost-effective and sustained production presents one of the biggest challenges. Furthermore, aviation industry stakeholders agree that alternative fuels must be compatible with current systems – which means sharing the characteristics of conventional kerosene and capable of being combined with or substituting for it.
Signs from the summit indicate that producing commercial-scale fuels from algae is still a decade away. This is in line with Airbus' vision, which anticipates the identification of promising kerosene and bio-fuel blends by 2010, with the possibility of alternative non-food supply sources such as algae maturing by 2015.
The summit also provided an opportunity for Airbus to highlight its contributions to achieving eco-efficient and sustainable aviation and promote the A380's environmental and fuel-efficient credentials.