Biofuel-powered aircraft

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FAPESP, Boeing and Embraer signed on Wednesday (26/10), in São Paulo, a letter of intent for collaboration in research and development of biofuels in commercial aviation.

The signing ceremony of the letter of intent was attended by representatives of three institutions: the advisor of FAPESP, Suely Vilela, the managing director of the Foundation, Joaquim José de Camargo Engler, president of Boeing Brazil Donna Hrinak, Vice chief executive officer of Embraer's engineering and technology, Mauro Kern, and the president of Boeing International Shephard Hill.

The agreement provides for the construction in the State of São Paulo from a research center focused on the development of sustainable biofuel for aviation, which will be based on the model of the Research, Innovation and Diffusion (CEPIDs), FAPESP, aimed at developing research in the frontier of knowledge.

To create the center, initially there will be a study lasting approximately 9 to 12 months to survey the possibilities and challenges of the major social, economic, scientific and technological routes of different technologies for the development of a biofuel for aviation in Brazil and to define the investments to be made by project participants.

The study will be guided by a series of public workshops to be held throughout 2012 to collect data. These data will be provided by different members of the production chain of biofuels and a Strategic Advisory Board. The Board shall consist of airlines, manufacturers and fuel suppliers, researchers and government officials, among others.

In a final phase of the study, FAPESP will launch a special call for proposals for the establishment of the Center.

According Vilela, by establishing a partnership with Boeing and Embraer, "FAPESP seeks to enhance and promote an active participation of high-tech companies in the scientific research carried out in São Paulo."

"The environment for private participation in science and technology and understanding that we are establishing with these companies, which comprises setting a theme for research and application of its results reinforce the growing trend of private sector participation in research in São Paulo and need to internationalize their results, "said Vilela.

According to the professor at USP, which represented at the event Celso Lafer, FAPESP's president, "this model of co-financing the research has been successful and will strengthen the infrastructure where the project will be developed."

The project will make use of several previous studies in Brazil and abroad for the use of biofuels, such as those developed under the FAPESP Bioenergy Research (BIOEN).

Launched in 2008, the program aims to foster research in the area of ​​bioenergy, including biofuels generated by different species in five different approaches: improving cultivars for biomass production of sugarcane and other plants; research on bioethanol production processes and other compounds of interest to industry, applications of ethanol for automotive engines (internal combustion engines and fuel cells); biorefineries and alcohol chemistry, and research on the social, economic and environmental use and production of biofuels.

"All the studies related to the production of raw materials, life cycle analysis and new technologies of production and processing of raw material for production of biofuels for use in automotive vehicles, for example, be useful for the project."

"But the requirements for the use of biofuels to replace jet fuel are much more restrictive and require us to meet a long list of technical specifications. To meet this need, different materials and techniques will be studied routes, "said Luis Augusto Barbosa Cortez, deputy coordinator of Special Programs of FAPESP and coordinated the study for the project.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA, in its English acronym) established in the industry that companies must stop the growth of carbon emissions by 2020 and reduce by 50% in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels .

"As long as there are still no enabling technologies eliminate the liquid fuels for airplanes, biofuels have an absolutely dominant role to achieve this goal," said Mauro Kern, executive vice president of engineering and technology of Embraer.

For the president of Boeing Brazil Donna Hrinak, the project represents the first step to establish an aviation biofuels industry in Brazil.

"We are very interested in the possibility of commercializing biofuel for aviation. This agreement represents an important step to get to something concrete in this sense, "he said.

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