Virgin Australia is leading a trial of biofuel through Brisbane Airport's existing fuel supply system.

United States-based renewable fuel and chemical producer Gevo Inc supply sustainable aviation fuel, or biojet, to the fuel supply infrastructure at Brisbane Airport.

The initiative marks the first time in Australia that biojet will be supplied through an airport's regular fuel supply system and be available to all airlines, including those flying across the Tasman.

It also is the first time in the world that biojet produced using the alcohol-to-jet process will be supplied to an airport's regular fuel supply system.


The company makes the fuel from sources including sugarcane bagasse, molasses, wood waste and agave, a succulent that grows in hot and arid places.

Incorporating biojet through existing infrastructure is crucial to its widespread use as it avoids the need for costly duplicate systems.

It is hoped a successful trial will help encourage the development of a biojet industry in Australia or even in this country.

There would be four shipments of the biofuel over the two-year trial period and the exact blend of biofuel to fossil fuel will be confirmed once talks with the fuel providers at Brisbane airport have concluded.

Gevo has already supplied test supplies of its biojet to Alaska Airlines, the US Air Force, US Army and US Navy.

The Virgin Australia Group will be responsible for co-ordinating the purchase, supply and blending of the fuels and will work closely with the Queensland Government, Brisbane Airport, Gevo and other stakeholders.

The first shipment would be used within months.

Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said the project announced today was critical to testing the fuel supply chain infrastructure in Australia to ensure that Virgin Australia and Brisbane Airport are ready for the commercial supply of the fuels.


Gevo chief executive Patrick Gruber said that although his company would initially supply jet fuel from its hydrocarbon plant based in Texas, and derived from isobutanol produced at its commercial plant in Minnesota, there would be significant opportunities for production in Queensland.

"'We believe Queensland offers huge potential for low-cost sugar feedstocks to produce biofuels."

Airlines have struggled to move from the test phases of biofuel to its widespread commercial use during the last decade due to cost and the difficulty of finding the right feedstock to reach commercial production levels.