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WSJ reports B-1 syngas flight May 26, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in Alternatives, Fischer-Tropsch.
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On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal finally reported that the USAF is converting its fleet to synthetic fuels. The subject of the article is the March test flight of a B1 on 50-50 syngas/JP8.

I say finally because this blog reported the flight in March, shortly after it happened. (See it here.) In that post, I made mention of the fact that the AF intends to certify all its aircraft by 2011, and has already certified the C-17, B-52 and B1.

They chose a 50/50 blend because the FT syngas burned too clean, and the existing jet engines were optimized to burn the existing jet fuel blends, which are “dirtier”. This is a point missed by WSJ, who looked at the carbon emissions of raw coal and assumed that FT fuel was the same. It is not the cleanliness of FT that keeps it from production, but rather issue of sequestering the surplus CO2 that is extracted during refinement.

I’m glad the WSJ reported the AF’s progress. Their chart was instructive in showing the effect of rising fuel prices on the AF budget.  I’m told that the AF spends an additional half a billion dollars a year every time the price of oil goes up $10 a barrel.  That’s why the cost of fuel has more than doubled (from $5B to $12B) from 2004 to 2007, following only a 2% rise from 2003 to 2004.   (You can imagine the havoc that’s having on the AF budget!)

Watch this site to stay up with how the AF Research Lab is leading industry in creating alternatives in energy technology.

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