The project is framed in the implementation of the EU policies, implementation of the EIBI of the SET-Plan and specifically aims to be a contribution to the fulfilment of some of the short-term (2015) EU Flight Path objectives.
The overall objective of ITAKA in the field of Research and Innovation is to develop a full value-chain in Europe to produce sustainable Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) at large scale enough to allow testing its use in existing logistic systems and in normal flight operations in Europe. ITAKA will assess its sustainability, economic competitiveness and technology readiness, in order to identify and address barriers to innovation.
Being the first-of-its-kind collaborative project in the EU, ITAKA will link supply and demand by establishing a relationship under guaranteed conditions between feedstock grower, biofuel producer, distributor and final user. Therefore, ITAKA will address challenges in two main areas:
- Development of commercial scale production and study implications of large-scale use.
- Research on sustainability, economic competitiveness and technology readiness.
Beyond this main technological and research objectives, ITAKA is also willing to contribute to the achievement of a further EU objective: The need to coordinate efforts and complementarities among European Initiatives on sustainable aviation fuels, what has been highlighted during the Flight Path definition 1 and identified in SWAFEA2 recommendations: 'Setting up a knowledge and test capability network within the EU to provide an EU-based fuel evaluation capability'.
ITAKA has been built aiming to engage key stakeholders participating in different EU initiatives in the field, to make a first significant step in the establishment of such European network.
The biojet used in aviation is already certified 4 for a maximum blend of 50% with fossil Jet-A1 fuel allowing its use in the existing infrastructures and aircraft, but there is also a need to investigate environmental, social and economical side effects and barriers, to be fully understood, as identified in EU FP7 funded projects DREAM5 and SWAFEA.
The integration and organisation of the whole aviation biofuel value-chain must be optimised to reduce fuel costs. This goal will require research and engineering/logistics breakthrough in all sectors involving the production and deployment chain.
Vegetable oils to power planes
An EU-funded project is accelerating widespread use of renewable aviation fuels in Europe. Exciting new players are appearing on the biofuel scene such as camelina oils.
The aviation industry pledges to achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020. Use of sustainable aviation biofuels is a key strategy to reach this goal. Although a number of small-scale biofuel value chains exist, they do not currently have the necessary critical mass to push the technological and logistics boundaries to commercial-scale limits.
Putting sustainable fuel use on the horizon is the aim of the EU-funded project 'Initiative towards sustainable kerosene for aviation' (http://www.itaka-project.eu/ (ITAKA)). The project is aims at supporting the development of aviation biofuels in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner, improving the readiness of existing technology and infrastructures.
Project members will produce enough volume of sustainable biojet fuel to allow testing in existing logistics systems and in normal flight operations in the EU. As the first-of-its-kind project in the EU, ITAKA is linking supply and demand by establishing commercial relationships among feedstock growers, biofuel producers, distributors and end users.
ITAKA targets camelina oil as the best sustainable feedstock that can be timely produced at enough quantity within Europe to produce biojet fuel. The oil is converted into drop-in — namely, no modifications to the aircraft for fuel use — aviation fuel through the hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) pathway. Used cooking oil is also being assessed for its use as biojet fuel feedstock.
So far, scientists have sought to improve key aspects of camelina cultivation, including economic, social and environmental sustainability issues such as productivity and land use. With respect to the conversion technology, ITAKA selected thermal catalytic cracking as the pathway to upgrade used oils. A new pilot unit is being developed for this purpose. Preparations have also been made to determine to what extent (re)certification of the biojet fuel could be adjusted to make the downstream distribution process more cost-effective.
ITAKA will also pioneer the distribution of biofuels through the normal logistic channels in European airports, thus bringing economic viability of biojet a step closer to reality. The project is also supporting the goal of the European Advanced Biofuels Flight Path of producing two million tonnes of renewable fuel for airline use by 2020.