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Jet Fuel from Biomass May 28, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in Alternatives.
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Not content to have its jets certified to fly on a syngas-JP8 blend, the Air Force Research Lab is partnering with the University of Dayton to find new ways to create jet fuel not just from coal but also from waste biomass.

The news release says “the University of Dayton Research Institute will collaborate with AFRL to construct and operate the country’s first federal research facility designed to create jet fuel from coal and biomass in a program aimed at creating a viable, home-grown alternative to increasingly expensive foreign petroleum-based fuel. The award will also fund research into coal- and biomass-derived fuel technologies for greater fuel efficiency and reduced environmental impact.”

You see, the technology of how to make aviation fuels from coal, from grains and even biomass is moving along smartly. The Air Force has already certified 4 aircraft types to run on syngas fuel blends, but if there’s no one making it commercially, it’s all for nothing.

What the AF is doing here is spending $10M up front to learn how to construct facilities that efficiently convert these substances into the kinds of fuels that the AF (and commercial aviation) can use. It’s a bunch of money to be able to make “up to” 15 gallons of jet fuel per day.

You see, no one wants to build an inefficient plant. And they’d rather have someone else make the mistakes about how to do all this efficiently. They want to be able to learn from someone else who has already made the mistakes and now knows how to squeeze every drop of value out of a lump of coal or sheaf of waste cornstalks.

The research will also investigate ways to create jet fuel with a carbon footprint well below that produced by current petroleum fuel refineries. And the new fuels should reduce the number of additives used to help stabilize current jet fuel in extreme conditions: anti-icing additives, high-heat blends, high-altitude varieties, and stabilizers. Each of these specialized conditions now takes a costly additive, often from a single source. If successful, the refinement process will produce common fuels that are suitable in a variety of operating conditions.

Transfer of production capability is not expected until after 2010, but if the AF didn’t start now, we’ll be needing someone to do this research next year.

Source: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1610084/

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