Since 2006 the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) has sought to enhance energy security and environmental sustainability for aviation by exploring the use of alternative jet fuels. CAAFI is a coalition of airlines, aircraft and engine manufacturers, energy producers, researchers, international participants and U.S. government agencies. Together these stakeholders are leading the development and deployment of alternative jet fuels for commercial aviation.
CAAFI’s goal is to promote the development of alternative jet fuel options that offer equivalent levels of safety and compare favorably on cost with petroleum based jet fuel, while also offering environmental improvement and security of energy supply for aviation.
The recent volatility in petroleum prices caused fuel to become the single largest component of U.S. airline operating cost for the first time in history in 2006. And, concern about the environmental impacts of aviation growth is also rising within the international community. While U.S. commercial aviation consumes about 3 percent of U.S. total energy use, it drives about 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and just under 9 percent of national employment. Secure and sustainable fuel sources are essential for its continued prosperity.
Aviation is international in scope, highly integrated in its fuel supply chain and, because of a significant ability to align and coordinate within the industry, well positioned to pursue alternative fuels
Function & Focus
CAAFI primarily serves as a means of exchanging information and coordinating stakeholder efforts. This is done through the holding of technical workshops, outreach to domestic and international aviation, energy, and financial industry forums, and communication with the news media.
CAAFI participants are evaluating alternative jet fuels in teams focused in four areas:
- Fuel Certification and Qualification
To ensure the safety of any alternative fuels given the demanding environment posed by aviation operations, participants are creating a new jet fuels approval process via the ASTM International standard setting body. Fuel approval will enable the safe use of alternative jet fuels and guarantee manufacturer, user and regulatory confidence in them.
- Research and Development
To improve understanding of the broad range of new fuel production technologies and feedstocks that can be applied to aviation, participants are sharing analyses and identifying and coordinating research activities.
To assess the spectrum of environmental impacts of any alternative fuel options developed, participants are working to measure engine emissions that affect air quality and quantify the full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the fuel production process including feedstock extraction and transport, fuel processing, fuel distribution and land use changes.
- Business and Economics
To facilitate the deployment of alternative jet fuels in the marketplace, participants are connecting fuel producers and consumers, evaluating the business case for use of alternative jet fuel, and identifying opportunities for deployment.
CAAFI participants meet regularly to update the state of alternative jet fuel developments in these areas, identify gaps and hurdles, and decide on next steps required in the research, development and deployment process.