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Jatropha-Derived Aviation Fuel in Testing at Rolls-Royce; Air NZ Test Flight Targeted for December

4 November 2008

Uopjp8jatropha
Properties of UOP’s jatropha-based JP-8 military jet fuel as presented earlier this year at AIChE. Click to enlarge.

The jatropha-derived “green jet” fuel to power one of four engines on a test flight in an Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400 has arrived at the Rolls-Royce facility in Derby, UK, for testing prior to the flight.

Preliminary data shows the fuel meets all required specifications for use in commercial aviation and a technical team led by Rolls-Royce is now putting the fuel through further validation testing, according to Air New Zealand.

Subject to the fuel meeting the necessary scientific criteria, a test flight on an Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400, powered by Rolls-Royce engines RB211, will take place in Auckland in December, with an exact date to be confirmed once fuel testing is complete.

The test flight is a joint initiative between Air New Zealand, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and UOP, who produced the aviation biofuel. Using a feedstock-flexible method derived from its EcoFining process for producing renewable “green diesel” (earlier post), UOP deoxygenates the jatropha oil, then applies selective cracking and isomerization to produce synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) that can then be blended with conventional aviation fuel at up to 50%.

UOP characterizes the green jet fuel as first-generation—derived from natural oils and fats. Using jatropha—an inedible oil—as a feedstock is a bridge to second-generation renewable aviation fuel, which will take lignocellulosic biomass and algal oils to a fully renewable jet fuel.

The jatropha oil Air New Zealand has sourced and refined for its test flight comes from South Eastern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania) and India. It was sourced from seeds grown on environmentally sustainable farms.

The partners have been non-negotiable about the social, technical and commercial criteria any environmentally sustainable fuel must meet for the test flight program.

First, the fuel source must be environmentally sustainable and not compete with existing food resources. Second, the fuel must be a drop-in replacement for traditional jet fuel and technically be at least as good as the product used today. Finally, it should be cost-competitive with existing fuel supplies and be readily available.

The test flight partners engaged Terasol Energy, a leader in sustainable jatropha development projects, to independently source and certify that the jatropha-based fuel for the flight met all sustainability criteria.

Air New Zealand, Boeing and UOP are members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, which has been established to accelerate the development and commercialization of sustainable new aviation fuels, while lessening commercial aviation’s exposure to oil price volatility and dependence on fossil fuels. (Earlier post.)

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November 4, 2008 in Aviation, Biomass, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

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I wonder how many acres of Jatropha it would take to fuel a daily B50 1300 mile flight from Auckland to Sydney for a year?

Will S:

Assuming that the B50 flight is done with B-767 or equivalent (average about 4.25 gallons/mile), a 1300 mile flight would need about 5525 gallons of fuel.

Assuming that Jathropa feed stock can produce the claimed 1000 gallons/acre, each 1300-mile flight would need the feed stock from about 5.5 acres of high productivity Jathropa.

Considering the above, this daily (return) flight would consume the fuel produced by about 4015 acres of Jatropa per year.

Of course if the same flight is done with smaller planes such as A-320 or B-737 about 40% less fuel (and Jathropa acres) may be required.

A Bombadier streched Q-400E turbo-prop could do it with less than 50% of the B-767.

Thanks, Harvey. It seems that the estimates of oil production are all over the map for jatropha, from a high of 1000g/acre down to 58-73 US gallons per acre. If we did the same calculations based on the lower range, we'd see the acreage requirement around 34,769 acres to cover the yearly fuel requirement.

Will S

I agree will you that the estimated yield is probably much higher than reality. Something between 100 and 400 gals/acre may be possible with improved processing etc.

"estimates of oil production are all over the map for jatropha"
Yes, but the whole point of jatropha is that it's growing on acres that would wise not be growing anything edible.

Good point DS.

It could also help many third world countries economy, specially with a multitude of smaller scale very low cost processing units, at every other small Jathropa plantation. The industrial countries could supply a few thousand mini processing plants.

Locally produced energies may be a valuable first step to sustainable development.

Great post! It is interesting to read about jatropha-derived “green jet” fuel being used for aviation purposes and shows how ethanol should continue to be part of an energy independence plan. If you’d like to follow coverage of the ethanol industry in the United States, check out Toni Nuernberg’s blog ethanol Conversations. Let us know what you think.

Thanks!
Joanna Schroeder
EPIC Communications Director

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

How about a process that makes Jatropha edible or genetic modifications that makes it edible off the plant.

The airlines need to get together and build a nuclear reactor that produces hydrogen and combines that hydrogen with CO2 to produce jet fuel. Methanol could be used for short flights, but it is known how to turn methanol into gasoline and perhaps into jetfuel. ..HG..

Sorry about the multiple postings, I did not know how the new sign in and posting worked.

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