Turkish Airlines has perhaps not previously been known as a pioneer in aviation sustainability – the carrier launched its voluntary carbon emission offsetting scheme only in August this year. However, during the CAPA annual Environmental Sustainability Awards for Excellence in Singapore, the Turkish flag carrier was given one of the Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year awards for its work to develop the ’Microalgae Based Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Project.’
Resolving land and resources issues with feedstock
Also called ‘MICRO-JET’, it has the potential to create the world’s first carbon-negative sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The project will pilot the production of a synthetic bio-kerosene using microalgae as a feedstock. Using microalgae will allow production to circumvent issues such as competition for agricultural land in crop-based feedstock for biofuels, water use, and other valuable resources.
The plant will utilize carbon capture technology to become the first carbon-negative integrated refinery in Turkey and Europe and will, as previously mentioned, be the very first to produce net-negative SAF. The first sample is intended to be ready before the end of 2022 and will be tested by the airline’s engineering unit, Turkish Technic. If successful, it will then be used to power Turkish Airlines flights.
Photo: Getty Images
Proof of right direction
Levent Konukcu, Chief Investment and Technology Officer at Turkish Airlines, said that as the airline that flies to more countries than any other in the world, it appreciates SAF as a key element in its sustainability strategy. He further commented,
“The steps we have taken in the field of biofuels recently, such as the Signature of the SAF Declaration, the use of sustainable aviation fuel in our flights, and the ‘Microalgae-Based Sustainable Bio-Jet (MICRO-JET) Project,’ which we are carrying out with Boğaziçi University as a project partner, prove how much we focus on sustainable aviation fuels in the fight against climate change.
Beyond the use of biofuels, the fact that the support given to scientific studies in the production of this fuel is crowned with an award here today is both proud and indicates the correctness of the steps we have taken. As the Turkish Airlines family, we will continue to invest and support sustainable aviation fuels and focus on the future of our world.”
Photo: Etihad Airways
The Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year was awarded to two carriers – Turkish Airlines, and Etihad Airways. Whereas Turkish was recognized for a particular project, Etihad was presented the award for its ongoing sustainability commitments and innovative measures. These include several ‘ecoflights’, the latest of which will take off from Washington Dulles Airport for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, November 13, in order to demonstrate how flying closer to net-zero CO2 emissions is possible using available technology.
Other carriers recognized at the awards were Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air as both Global and EMEA Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year. Other regional winners were Cebu Pacific (Asia), Delta Air Lines (North America), and Volaris (Latin America).