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US Air Force Completes First Test Flight Run on New Alcohol Based Jet Fuel

The United States Air Force announced that they have flown the first aircraft that runs on a new fuel blend based on alcohol.

The fuel, known as Alcohol-to-Jet or ATJ, is the third alternative fuel to have been evaluated by the U.S. Air Force as a potential replacement for standard petroleum-derived JP-8 aviation fuel for the organization's fleet.

The fuel was tested on an A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft on June 28.

The fuel is cellulose-based, or can be derived from any cell-based material like wood, paper or grass. The extracted sugars are then fermented to alcohols and then processed into aviation fuel.

ATJ was produced by biofuel manufacturer Gevo, who was put on contract last year to provide the Air Force 11,000 gallons of the fuel.

"It flew like a usual A-10 would without any issues," said Maj. Olivia Elliott, an A-10 pilot and an evaluator for the testing.

Test engineer Capt. Joseph Rojas said the plane is an "excellent platform" for testing the new fuel due in part to its segregated fuel system.

"The system allows one engine to run off a fuel supply that is completely segregated from the other engine. This allows us to fly with one engine on the new fuel and the other on traditional fuel," he said. "If engine operation is normal, as with the ATJ blend, then we progress to flying with both engines on the new fuel."

Prior to ATJ, the Air Force had used synthetic paraffinic kerosene derived from coal and natural gas and a bio-mass fuel derived from plant oils and animal fats known as Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet.

The Air Force has approved fleet-wide certification efforts of the fuel blend which will be officially used once the Air Force Alternative Fuel Certification Division completes all air and ground testing.
"Eventually, it is possible that aircraft will see JP-8 consisting of all these alternatives," said AFCD chief Jeff Braun. "You won't be able to determine the difference and you won't care, because all perform as JP-8."

By. N.P. Arboleda

Source: Ecoseed




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  • Cliff Claven on July 13 2012 said:
    This fuel was purchased from Gevo in September of 2011 for $59.00 a gallon ($2,500 a barrel!). Conventional petroleum military jet fuel is current $2.32 a gallon for the military in bulk, and this has been roughly the same price since January of 2010. Since fulfulling this contract with the Air Force, Gevo has since decided to get out of biofuels altogether and shift to biochemicals because they can't bring the price down any further and are losing money. Amyris has done the same thing. Only the federal government and U.S. military, spending other people's money, are willing to buy biofuels in quantity at these prices. BTW, the reason these fuels will never be cheaper than petroleum, no matter how expensive petroleum gets, is that they require petroleum to make. Besides all the energy required to fertilize and cultivate and process the biomass into alcohol, the end product must be "hydrotreated" by adding hydrogen from fossil fuel in order to make it a "drop-in" hydrocarbon replacement fuel. Chemistry and thermodynamics dictate that biofuels cannot ever compete with fossil fuels, and cannot be made without them. This is the catch-22 you won't hear in the mainstream media or from the uninformed talking heads who push this greenwash agenda.
  • Mel Tisdale on July 14 2012 said:
    There is another aspect of bio-fuels generally that I have not heard discussed and that is that they are difficlut store. I don't know how valid this is, but it did come from a fuel engineer working for a major jet engine manufacturer who was working on the problem.

    The problem this person found was that the fuel's characteristics changed significantly over time and that sets a major difficulty for the engine's fuel control system.

    Also, it is worth remembering that we are going to need all the agricultural capacity we can find if we are going to feed the 9 million projected human population without taking climate change into account. If we carry on as we are, then climate change is guaranteed to exacerbate the problem, possibly to the point of insolubility.

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