REHOVOT, ISRAEL (July 7, 2010) – Evogene Ltd. (TASE: EVGN) announced today that biojet(1) produced from castor varieties under development by Evogene, meets the key international standards for alternative aviation fuels. The analysis was conducted by Evogene, Inc., a fully owned US subsidiary of Evogene, Ltd., in collaboration with NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Air Force Research Laboratory and Honeywell’s UOP, a leading international developer and licensor of refining process technology.
As previously disclosed, in April 2009 Evogene Inc. entered into a feasibility agreement with NASA, to evaluate the potential use of castor oil as a viable and sustainable feedstock for production of biojet fuel. Under said agreement, biojet produced from Evogene castor oil through UOP's technology, is expected to under go additional advanced testing by NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
The results being announced today demonstrate that such biojet meets the major ASTM D7566(2) fuel specifications requirements for alternative aviation fuels containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons. The D7566 fuel specification is written for fuels produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process; however, specifications for alternative aviation fuels containing Bio Synthesized Paraffinic Kerosene (biojet) are expected to be approved for commercial airline use before the end of 2010 or early next year.
"A diverse range of feedstocks is critical to creating a sustainable biofuels infrastructure,” said Jim Rekoske, general manager of Renewable Energy & Chemicals at Honeywell’s UOP. “Castor oil has proven to be a viable second-generation source, and we believe it has the potential to be an important contributor to the production of aviation biofuels.”
"We are pleased to see this feasibility support in castor oil as a viable second-generation feedstock for biofuels. In addition to the positive properties analysis being reported today, Evogene recently announced the results of a Life Cycle Analysis of biodiesel produced from its castor, showing that such biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases emissions by 90% compared to petroleum diesel in the U.S.,” stated Mr. Ofer Haviv, Evogene's President and CEO. “We highly value our joint efforts with NASA, AFRL and UOP, world leading entities in this field, for this project in developing castor oil biofuels.”
Based on public sources, a key objective of the aviation industry is obtaining viable and sustainable second-generation feedstock for biojet production, with the additional objective of reducing life-cycle emissions. Presently, it is believed that biojet will be one of the most common mid-term solutions for the aviation industry as it could be used as a drop-in replacement for jet fuel and would not require redesign of the engine or airplane.
As previously disclosed, Evogene is focusing on development of high yielding castor varieties, suitable for cost-efficient growth on semi-arid lands, using fully mechanized production. The economic target of Evogene's castor development program is for its varieties to be price competitive without government subsidies at an oil price equivalent to $45 per barrel.
Evogene is currently testing its castor varieties in field trials in the southern U.S. and northeastern Brazil.
(1) Biojet is a plant-based alternative to aviation fuels, also known as Bio Synthesized Paraffinic Kerosene (Bio-SPK) and Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet (HRJ).
(2) International standard and fuel specifications, covering the manufacture of aviation fuel that consists of conventional and synthetic blending components.