Cathay Pacific Aims to Be Carbon Neutral by 2020


Cathay Pacific Airways has made an equity investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a producer of biofuel in the United States. The airline says it is developing a “biofuel strategy” and aims to be carbon neutral by 2020.

The announcement was made in a press release issued Thursday. Cathay Pacific has reserved the option for further investment in Fulcrum.

Privately-held Fulcrum, based in California, is a trail-blazer in converting municipal solid waste into “low-carbon transportation fuels, including jet fuel,” according to their website. Cathay Pacific is the company’s first airline investor.

For Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, the long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum calls for 375 million gallons of fuel over 10 years, approximately 2 percent of the airline’s current fuel needs.

Fulcrum will begin constructing its first commercial plant later this year. The company plans to build plants at multiple locations, including some strategic to Cathay Pacific’s North American network.

In the press release, Cathay Pacific Biofuel Manager Jeff Ovens said, “Fulcrum has successfully demonstrated a process of converting municipal solid waste feedstock into sustainable aviation fuel at its scale demonstration facility.”

According to Fulcrum President and CEO Jim Macias, the new fuel has “the exact same molecules as fossil fuel but is cleaner, lower in carbon, renewable and lower cost than traditional fossil fuels.”

Macias claimed the process reduces carbon emissions by more than 80 percent when compared to traditional fossil fuels.

Cathay Pacific’s announcement comes one year after Virgin Atlantic won the 2013 Sustainable Biofuels Award. Virgin partnered with bio-technology company LanzaTech, which was founded in New Zealand and is now headquartered in the United States. According to their website, LanzaTech’s process converts carbon to jet fuel through gas fermentation. The founder and chairman of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, called it “a major breakthrough in the war on carbon.”

Climate scientists believe greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation contribute to about 5 percent of man-made global warming. Per person, a single round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide.

The percentage of those emission levels is expected to rise, due to the fact that the volume of air travel is increasing much faster than gains in flight fuel efficiency, while emissions from other sectors decline.

“We are well aware of the impact the aviation industry has on the environment,” Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Ivan Chu said in Thursday’s press release. Chu called the new fuels “an important component of our sustainable development strategy, under which we aim to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.”

[Photo: Cathay Pacific]


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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • IanFromHKG at 9:44pm August 11, 2014

    How can a fuel have “the exact same molecules as fossil fuel but [be] lower in carbon”???

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