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Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative

Volpe plays a key role in the Commercial Alternative Aviation Fuel Initiative (CAAFI), a multi-organizational coalition dedicated to promoting the development and deployment of safe, green alternatives to today’s jet fuels. As part of the CAAFI research and technical advisory team, Volpe leads many alternative jet fuel technical analyses and modeling efforts and provides key leadership in program coordination.

The Challenge

CAAFI’s mission to secure a stable, environmentally sustainable alternative fuel supply for international aviation through research and analysis is not easy.

In aviation, there are numerous stakeholders who need to sit at the table to advance a new technology, including the international commercial-aviation industry, fuel suppliers, universities, and U.S. government agencies. New alternative jet fuels need to be developed, assessed, and qualified under an accepted specification, and each stakeholder requires different inputs for informed decision making.

For instance, potential producers of alternative fuels need to meet the key criteria and technical requirements for acceptance of non-petroleum-derived jet fuel. Potential producers of alternative jet fuels also need to perform different environmental analyses at each level of the fuel production process to ensure environmental due diligence.  And airline and military customers need to understand what environmental performance data they should expect from alternative jet fuel producers.

The Solution

CAAFI requires the facilitation and execution of outreach activities among its steering committee members, sponsor-led project teams, global supply chain stakeholders, and finance and investment resources. On behalf of FAA, Volpe is part of the core leadership team that provides strategic management and direction of the overall initiative, technical analyses, alternatives for aviation fuel development and deployment analyses, and analyses of cost and technology implications for the implementation of CAAFI recommendations.

Volpe played a major role in publishing CAAFI’s “Environmental Sustainability Overview,” which provides a common ground for alternative jet fuel producers and purchasers to discuss environmental challenges associated with the development, deployment, and use of alternative jet fuels. The overview provides not just background on what environmental sustainability is, but also information on quantifiable approaches and mechanisms to sustainability.

Volpe assisted CAAFI in providing guidance for the Environmental Progression tool, which lets producers know when in the new fuel production process they must conduct sustainability analyses to ensure environmental due diligence.

Volpe also played a major role in publishing the “CAAFI R&D Team Position Paper” on the critical research and development challenges facing the alternative jet fuel industry, highlighting near-, mid-, and long-term priorities. 

In addition, Volpe developed and manages FAA’s Aviation Environmental Design Tool, an aviation noise and emissions prediction modeling tool that Volpe experts use to quantify the environmental impacts of alternative fuels.

The Impact

Development and use of a stable and environmentally sustainable alternative fuel supply for international aviation can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts of aviation. CAAFI enables its diverse stakeholders to build relationships, share and collect data, identify resources, and direct research, development, and deployment of alternative fuels.  As a technical and unbiased broker between these stakeholders, CAAFI has been able to break down the complex issue of providing alternative jet fuels into digestible and implementable pieces.

Volpe has played a critical role in developing CAAFI’s environmental tools, which provide a common understanding of environmental sustainability issues for stakeholders.

As new technologies emerge and the landscape for alternative fuels changes, Volpe’s support makes CAAFI uniquely positioned with a framework to engage all stakeholders of the aviation industry and provide guidance and communications that will facilitate a greener and more energy-diverse future.

Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014