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Agriculture hornet

Published on October 10th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

11

US Navy and Air Force Test Homegrown Jetfuel With 80% Less CO2

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October 10th, 2009 by  

The US Air Force has placed an order for 100,000 gallons of Camelina-based jet fuel, in addition to the 40,000 gallons the Navy ordered last month for $2.7 million, with delivery to begin this year. Sustainable Oils is supplying them with a biofuel grown in Montana with 80% lower carbon emissions than jet fuels now.

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The US Air Force has ordered an additional 100,000 gallons of Camelina for their second round of flight tests starting next June. The DOD is trying to find a non food-competitive biofuel that can be blended with jetfuel to reduce carbon emissions and is running tests on several kinds of alternative fuels.

Through contracts with farmers Sustainable Oils planted about 8,000 acres this year mostly in Montana, to make roughly 400,000 gallons of unrefined oil. That was then trucked to Texas to be refined in a pilot program run by Honeywell’s UOP LLC division, to turn it into renewable synthetic paraffinic kerosene, which can be blended with jet fuel.

The Parent company; Seattle-based agricultural biotech firm Targeted Growth supplied the biotechnology resources to Sustainable Oils. They have run more than 140 trials across North America since 2005 to test more than 90 breeding populations of Camelina to analyze agronomic and oil qualities and to develop new high-yielding varieties.

Camelina or wildflax is an agricultural plant that we first grew for oil in the Bronze Age, and still rotate with wheat crops to replenish soil health. It grows easily on marginal land without water or nitrogen, affected neither by drought nor cold. 

If it works well blended with jet fuel, it would be relatively easy to scale up to demand. It is more cold-resistant than the average biodiesel feedstock, which is key for jet fuels. All these qualities mark Camelina as a good likely second generation biofuel; one that won’t compete with crops for food.

Images: Navy F-18s from Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, USAF and F-15 from Flikr user Scott Christopher

Source: Biofuels Daily

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • http://www.i2eyedesign.com Mac McDougal

    Hi Susan et al., I think the two commenters might be missing one of the points of your article. Russ says it’s expensive. Majortom says it’s inefficient (compared to the F-14). Both of these comments are beside the point, IMO. The points that matter are these:

    First, a plant grown on marginal land can produce a fuel with enough chemical energy to meet a warplane’s demands. So it’s not some lab-only utopia; it’s a real world solution.

    Second, a plant grown on marginal land will, apparently, reduce the CO2 footprint of jet aircraft operations. Anybody who has been following the Swiss government’s attempt to enable a real-world 2000 watt lifestyle knows that air travel is the Great Destroyer. That is, every aspect of a person’s life can now be lived under 2000 watts/year with no significant lifestyle impacts–except air travel.

    Third and last, a plant grown on marginal land obviates the need to import energy from the Middle East, Nigeria, Venezuela, and other petro-dictatorships. We have all the marginal land anybody could want right here in the US of A.

    To boil it down: Energy density and efficiency, a reduced carbon footprint, and energy security are all implicated in these tests. Now *those are things that could get a person excited :-)

    [SK: I agree, Mac. And I disagree with Russ that it is expensive. Because "marginal land" = cheap land. A plant that's pretty much a weed, and grows without pesticides in the 5 huge empty States that can't grow food and have little other economy like North Dakota... all that adds up to a potentially very cheap jet fuel. Plus hugely climate friendly benefits: very encouraging experiment. ]

  • http://www.i2eyedesign.com Mac McDougal

    Hi Susan et al., I think the two commenters might be missing one of the points of your article. Russ says it’s expensive. Majortom says it’s inefficient (compared to the F-14). Both of these comments are beside the point, IMO. The points that matter are these:

    First, a plant grown on marginal land can produce a fuel with enough chemical energy to meet a warplane’s demands. So it’s not some lab-only utopia; it’s a real world solution.

    Second, a plant grown on marginal land will, apparently, reduce the CO2 footprint of jet aircraft operations. Anybody who has been following the Swiss government’s attempt to enable a real-world 2000 watt lifestyle knows that air travel is the Great Destroyer. That is, every aspect of a person’s life can now be lived under 2000 watts/year with no significant lifestyle impacts–except air travel.

    Third and last, a plant grown on marginal land obviates the need to import energy from the Middle East, Nigeria, Venezuela, and other petro-dictatorships. We have all the marginal land anybody could want right here in the US of A.

    To boil it down: Energy density and efficiency, a reduced carbon footprint, and energy security are all implicated in these tests. Now *those are things that could get a person excited :-)

    [SK: I agree, Mac. And I disagree with Russ that it is expensive. Because "marginal land" = cheap land. A plant that's pretty much a weed, and grows without pesticides in the 5 huge empty States that can't grow food and have little other economy like North Dakota... all that adds up to a potentially very cheap jet fuel. Plus hugely climate friendly benefits: very encouraging experiment. ]

  • http://taleofgrace.com Swift Arrow

    The best way to end the Environmental Crisis and to fund vulnerable country’s adaptation programs, is to heavily tax sale of war goods, and emissions from warfare.

    [SK: Heh. Good luck passing that through our filibuster-riddled Senate! Great idea though! It is an issue. Have you ever noticed that you can see a definite uptick in the greenhouse gas emissions record during WWII - and then a drop afterwards (as Europe's economy lay in ruins)]

  • http://taleofgrace.com Swift Arrow

    The best way to end the Environmental Crisis and to fund vulnerable country’s adaptation programs, is to heavily tax sale of war goods, and emissions from warfare.

    [SK: Heh. Good luck passing that through our filibuster-riddled Senate! Great idea though! It is an issue. Have you ever noticed that you can see a definite uptick in the greenhouse gas emissions record during WWII - and then a drop afterwards (as Europe's economy lay in ruins)]

  • http://taleofgrace.com Swift Arrow

    The best way to end the Environmental Crisis and to fund vulnerable country’s adaptation programs, is to heavily tax sale of war goods, and emissions from warfare.

    [SK: Heh. Good luck passing that through our filibuster-riddled Senate! Great idea though! It is an issue. Have you ever noticed that you can see a definite uptick in the greenhouse gas emissions record during WWII - and then a drop afterwards (as Europe's economy lay in ruins)]

  • majortom1981

    You know what wastes more energy. Replacing better f-14d’s with new not as good f-18 super hornets. I bet if they would have kept the f-014’s it would have saved a whole bunch more environmental resources that were used to mnake the hornets.

  • majortom1981

    You know what wastes more energy. Replacing better f-14d’s with new not as good f-18 super hornets. I bet if they would have kept the f-014’s it would have saved a whole bunch more environmental resources that were used to mnake the hornets.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Of course it would not cost as much in production as this first test costs.

    Anyone who’s been in manufacturing will tell you that. R&D is THE most expensive part. But this kind of R&D is essential to innovation.

    And finding green fuels are essential to the DOD.

  • russ

    The new jatophra!

    Only 67.50 per gallon! Heck of a deal.

    Many fuels will work – this is just show to pacify green types.

  • russ

    The new jatophra!

    Only 67.50 per gallon! Heck of a deal.

    Many fuels will work – this is just show to pacify green types.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Of course it would not cost as much in production as this first test costs.

    Anyone who’s been in manufacturing will tell you that. R&D is THE most expensive part. But this kind of R&D is essential to innovation.

    And finding green fuels are essential to the DOD.

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