The ASTM International Committee on Petroleum Products and Lubricants has reportedly given preliminary approval to the use by airlines of a new jet fuel that blends traditional fuel with biofuel from organic waste and inedible plants. The U.S.-based technical standards development group’s action was applauded by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) for enabling further use of “sustainable alternative fuels in aviation.

According to a news source, final ASTM approval is expected no earlier than July 1, 2011, with airlines able to use the biofuel soon thereafter. Referred to as “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids” (HEFA) fuel, the biofuel consists of biomass feedstocks such as camelina, jatropha and algae. Revised ASTM jet-fuel specifications will allow a blend of up to 50 percent HEFA fuel in conventional jet fuel.

“The real winners of this type of regulatory breakthrough will be technology companies involved in the production of aviation biofuels,” said Harry Boyle, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst. “The biotech-biofuels business models of Amyris Inc. (AMRS), Codexis Inc. (CDSX), Gevo Inc. and Solazyme Inc. are all making claims to these types of new markets.” Other companies possibly benefitting from the $139-billion-a-year aviation fuel market reportedly include Finland’s Neste Oil Oyj, Spain’s Abengoa SA, and Honeywell International Inc

“Developing a renewable fuel supply is a critical part of our industry’s strategy for achieving carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020 and creating a sustainable future for aviation in the global community it serves,” a Boeing official reportedly said. See Bloomberg, June 9, 2011; ATA Press Release, June 10, 2011.