Groundbreaking biofuels capable of powering jet engines with minimal environmental fallout will be top of the agenda at a special alternative aviation fuels forum hosted by the US Studies Centre at the 2011 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition in Melbourne this week.

The three-day forum will bring together leading government and international aviation industry representatives to discuss the progress towards commercial use of sustainable fuels and opportunities for cooperation and investment.

It will be facilitated by the Centre's Adjunct Professor with the Dow Sustainability Program, Susan Pond, and the Executive Director of the US-based Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), Richard Altman.

CAAFI has been a catalyst in the accelerated development and deployment of alternative fuels worldwide and Altman was a founding member of the US Transportation Research Board Committee on aviation effects on the environment.

The prospect of increasing carbon fuel regulation both domestically and internationally, and the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) target of carbon-neutral growth by 2020, have seen the aviation industry increasingly pushing the frontiers of advanced biofuels.

Dr Pond says the most attractive prospects are for renewable fuels that are compatible with existing aircraft, engines and fuel distribution systems. These can be produced from biomass, including municipal waste, crop and forest residues, energy crops and micro crops such as bacteria, yeast or microalgae.

"Sustainable alternatives to petroleum fuels are being sought to address global concerns about energy and climate. This program will add momentum to global efforts to develop alternative fuels by fostering networks and identifying opportunities."

The program runs between March 2 and March 4 at the Avalon airfield.

Dr Susan Pond and Richard Altman are available for interview about the program and the current development of sustainable aviation fuels. Media wishing to attend the US Studies Centre program should contact the Centre for accreditation details.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES Annabel McGilvray M 0405 260 919