Corn Farmers, Industry Explore Aviation Biofuels Research

Key corn and corn stover supply chain groups have joined forces with Purdue University to review the potential economics behind the innovative market of aviation biofuels.

Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Iowa Corn Promotion Board — state corn checkoff organizations — are both funding the project. Boeing, United Airlines and Honeywell UOP are contributing technical expertise to the project as well as financial support.

Dr. Wally Tyner, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, is leading the project to develop a complete economic analysis of the production of aviation biofuels from Midwest corn stover. In addition to analyzing the manufacturing of aviation biofuels, the project will evaluate policy options which could be enacted to provide momentum for the biofuels industry.

Last year, 21.5 billion gallons of aviation jet fuel was used. According to industry experts, biofuels could potentially meet up to half that demand in the future.

Rosalind Leeck, director of biofuels for Indiana Corn Marketing Council, explained that the organization is excited to join with this diverse group of industry and corn leaders to sponsor this research.

“This economic analysis will build upon other research the Indiana corn checkoff has supported on stover collection, storage and transport and reveal potential market opportunities for corn farmers while offering environmental benefits for the aviation industry,” Leeck said.

In late June, representatives from Boeing, United Airlines and Honeywell UOP announced this partnership with corn farmers during the rollout of the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI) report in Chicago.

“This effort is a great example of how corn growers can work with their corn ethanol customers to advance the use of renewable fuels,” said Shannon Textor, director of market development for Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

The research will be completed by late July 2013.

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