Some interesting developments on the alternative fuels front.
Jet fuel from Sustainable Oils, a producer of renewable, low-carbon, and domestically made fuels, powered the test flight of a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft. The aircraft was powered by a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8and biofuel derived from camelina.
“The F-22 flew on Friday, March 18, and performed flawlessly on the biofuel blend citing no noticeable differences from traditional JP-8,” says Jeff Braun, director of the Alternative Fuels Certification Division, part of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio…The F-22 Raptor performed several maneuvers, including a supercruise at 40,000 feet reaching speeds of 1.5 Mach. Supercruise is supersonic flight without using the engine’s afterburner.”
To date, Sustainable Oils has contracts for more than 500,000 gallons of camelina-based biofuel with the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army. Fuels derived from camelina have been the most thoroughly tested of all aviation biofuels, according to a company representative. These fuels have powered a variety of aircraft, including commercial airplanes (Continental, Japan Airlines, KLM) and military aircraft (A-10 Warthog, FA-18 Hornet, and MH-60S Seahawk Helicopter). Camelina does not compete with crops grown for food; rather, it grows well in rotation with wheat and on non-irrigated land. Given its high protein content and Omega 3 fatty acids, its “meal” (what is left after oil extraction from the seed) has been approved by the USDA for livestock and poultry feed, adding to the food chain.
Qantas, for example, is reportedly in talks with two biofuels suppliers, Solazyme, which recently filed for an IPO and Solena Group. Likewise, Airbus has teamed up with the Romanian firm Tarum to create an aviation biofuels plant in that country, part of the Airbus’s reported plan to establish renewable fuel-making facilities on every continent. Boeing (NYSE:BA), also hopes a biofuels market will emerge by 2015.
Honeywell (NYSE:HON) Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) are all involved in growing the industry. Two years ago, Shell (NYSE:RDSA) acquired the aviation biofuel unit of Brazilian biofuel giant Cosan (NYSE:CZZ), while British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) joined Airbus and other companies to complete an 80,000 ton-per-year biofuel plant there by 2013.
As Biofuels Digest noted: “The news reminds us that, while most of the coverage of Brazil has focused on ethanol production and distribution into its well-established, subsidy-free alternative fuels market, there is substantial momentum building up in Brazil on the diesel and jet fuel side.” Indeed, traveling to that nation last week, President Obama touted U.S.-Brazilian cooperation on aviation biofuels.
There is a link in the above article to a PDF entitled “Powering the Future of Flight: the Six Easy Steps to Growing a Viable Aviation Biofuels Industry“.