Alternative fuels for aviation

Following up on our previous article on alternative fuel use in the aviation industry we have news that the B-52 has undergone the planned cold weather testing of a 50-50 synthetic fuel blend. According to the Associated Press:

Millman, the pilot of a B-52 bomber, helped test a synthetic fuel blend that could be made domestically from coal or natural gas as the Air Force seeks to wean its dependence on foreign crude and defray fuel costs.

The cold-weather ground tests of the fuel showed that it compared well with petroleum-based military aviation fuel, known as JP-8, officials said. It behaves exactly the same as JP-8 – no more, no less,” Millman said.

The cold weather tests are the last step in certification of this fuel for military use. Apart from reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports it burns more cleanly than JP-8.

Another aviation related story from the US sees Diversified Energy Corporation announcing that they have agreed to the terms of an exclusive worldwide license with North Carolina State University for an innovative and breakthrough biofuels technology. It provides several key advantages when compared with other biofuel processes like biodiesel, ethanol and others, including:

  • Delivers a more advanced and complex hydrocarbon fuel, suitable for demanding applications like jet fuel and as a biodiesel additive for cold-weather operations.
  • Provides up to a 50% reduction in external energy required in the process.
  • Utilizes any renewable lipid-based oil compound (soybean, canola, animal fats, algae, etc), thus avoiding being beholden to the price and availability of any one supply source.
  • Produces an aviation fuel competitively priced with petroleum-derived fuel, before considering the additional financial incentives available from the government.
  • Offers a “100% green” biofuel product containing no fossil fuel components.

It seems some progress is being made in finding alternatives for aviation fuel. Let’s hope these new technologies live up to the hype.

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