The Climate Spectator has an article on Qantas' interest in jet fuel derived from algae - Oil and water.
Qantas last week announced the launch of its sustainable fuel strategy, a collaboration with San Francisco-based renewable energy group, Solazyme, to explore opportunities for algae-based sustainable aviation fuel. Qantas and Solazyme will work together over the next year to pursue potential for commercial production of Solazyme’s microbial derived aviation fuel, Solajet, in Australia. This latest move is part of the airline's long-term strategy to accelerate the commercialisation of 'drop-in' alternative jet fuels to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Qantas already has a similar arrangement with the Solena Group for waste-based sustainable fuel.
In Australia, demand for aviation fuel is currently at about six billion litres a year, and Qantas’ Peter Broschofsky, who is coordinating the biofuels initiative as well as chairing the environment committee of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), says that $180 per gallon fuel in 2008 helped move the concept of lower cost, lower emission biofuels out of the too-hard basket. He also described how Boeing galvanised the industry behind the development of the Bio-SPK jet fuel specification, which most are predicting will be approved in the first half of 2011 and possibly late in the first quarter, says BiofuelsDigest. “Watch the flood,” Broschofsky predicted, “after the fuel is certified, interest will be at a fever pitch, and we want to get in ahead.”
As for the technology, according to Solazyme, it "allows algae to produce oil and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities quickly, efficiently and at large scale." These can then be tailored for biofuel production, as well for the replacement for fossil fuels and plant oils. According to the company's website, a study undertaken in 2009 concluded that full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from field-to-wheels for Solazyme's algal biofuel, Soladiesel, are 85 to 93 per cent lower than standard petroleum-based ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD).