The aviation industry is on target to certify the first jet biofuels for commercial use by 2011, according to a senior executive at one of the world's largest jet engine manufacturers

Dr Alan H Epstein, vice president technology and environment at Pratt & Witney, told Businessgreen.com that the company was confident that the industry’s efforts to develop biofuels were on track to attain the official certification new fuels require to be used commercially during 2011.

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“We want to certify a biofuel by 2011 and we have an agreement to share results with GE and Boeing,” he said. “Between us we make 98 per cent of the engine market and we genuinely are working as a team on this to get the engines certified for using biofuel. We think that is a realistic timescale.”

He added that test flights carried out over the past year had shown that Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene derived from plants was in many ways superior to conventional fuels, resulting in lower levels of particulate matter that allows for improved engine efficiency.

Epstein predicted that the most likely feedstock for aviation fuel in the long term will be algae, which he argued could be grown in sufficiently large quantities without eating into agricultural land. But he also argued that in the shorter term biofuels based on rape seed oil could be used by many airlines.

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