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.
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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