Amyris, a California-based integrated renewable products company, in a jet fuel joint venture with Total Energies Nouvelles Activités USA, has come up with a way of producing sustainable biojet fuel called farnesane. This biofuel is now fully certified and is being used by Brazilian airline, GOL.
Farnesane is a sustainable biofuel made using sugarcane, making it a perfect fit for production in Brazil, which has the world’s largest sugarcane industry. As sugarcane is not classed as an essential crop, it can used as a biofuel feedstock and the faresane-based fuel received full approval from the global standards agency, ASTM International, in 2014 and Brazilian authorities in the same year.
Farnesane is made through fermentation, where yeast is used to convert sugar cane syrup into a hydrocarbon. By adding hydrogen atoms to the farnesene through a process called hydrogenation, Amyris are able to produce the molecule, which in turn produces the renewable jet fuel.
In July 2014, GOL began flying its first commercial route between Brazil and the USA with a 10% farnesane biofuel mix on its fleet of Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft.
The potential for farnesane is huge as Amyris’ production facility near São Paulo, with a ready supply of sugarcane, has the capacity to produce around 50 million litres per year. Other airlines have now taken notice of the fuel’s potential and it is likely that we will be seeing more flights running on farnesane in the near future.