On 22 Nov 2007, the European Commission proposed a plan to accelerate energy technologies for a low-carbon future, the SET Plan. To put the plan into action, European Industrial Initiatives on several energy technologies including bioenergy were proposed, with the aim to strengthen energy research and innovation by bringing together appropriate resources and actors in a particular industrial sector. These initiatives are to be focused on technologies for which the barriers scale of investment and risk can best be tackled collectively by the EU, Member States and industry. The initiatives must also demonstrate measurable objectives in terms of cost reduction or improved performance.

In this context European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI) appears like one of the industrial initiatives launched under the SET Plan. It will support demonstration or reference plants for innovative bioenergy value chains which are not yet commercially available (thus excluding existing biofuels and heat & power technologies) and which could be deployed at large scale.

Initiative Towards sustAinable Kerosene for Aviation (ITAKA) is a collaborative project framed in the implementation of the European Union policies, implementation of EIBI and specifically aims to be a contribution to the fulfilment of some of the short-term (2015) EU Flight Path objectives.

ITAKA project is expected to support the development of aviation biofuels in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner, improving the readiness of existing technology and infrastructures. This will be achieved through the first of its kind collaborative project in the EU, that will develop a full value-chain in Europe to produce sustainable drop-in kerosene containing up to 50% of Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) at large scale enough to allow testing its use in existing logistic systems and in normal flight operations in the EU.

ITAKA will link supply and demand by establishing a relationship under guaranteed conditions between feedstock grower, biofuel producer, distributor and airlines. Therefore, ITAKA will address challenges in two main areas:

  • Development of commercial scale production and study implications of large-scale use.
  • Research on sustainability, economic competitiveness and technology readiness.

Beyond this technological and research objectives, ITAKA is also willing to contribute to the achievement of a further EU objective “the need to coordinate efforts and complementarities among European Initiatives on sustainable aviation fuels”, as highlighted during the Flight Path definition and identified in Sustainable Way for Alternative Fuel and Energy in Aviation (SWAFEA) recommendations “Setting up a knowledge and test capability network within the EU to provide an EU based fuel evaluation capability”. ITAKA has been built aiming to engage key stakeholders and to make a first significant step in the establishment of such a European network.

The generated knowledge will aim to identify and address barriers to innovation and commercial deployment.

Itaka

The biojet used in aviation is already certified for a maximum blend of 50% with fossil Jet-A1 fuel allowing its use in the existing infrastructures and aircraft, but there is also a need to investigate environmental, social and economical side effects and barriers, to be fully understood, as identified in EU FP7 funded projects DREAM and SWAFEA. The integration and organization of the whole aviation biofuel value-chain must be optimised to reduce fuel cost. This goal will require research and engineering/logistics breakthrough in all sectors involving the production and deployment chain.

In order to achieve this in the most efficient way ITAKA will target camelina oil as the best possible sustainable feedstock that can be produced timely at enough quantity within Europe. Used cooking oil (UCO) will also be considered as an alternative feedstock. The bio fuel sustainability will be assessed against the RSB EU RED Standard.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 308807