[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
US DOE to award nearly $18M to 4 biorefinery projects for mil-spec renewable hydrocarbon fuels
April 22, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award nearly $18 million to four innovative pilot-scale biorefineries in California, Iowa and Washington that will produce and test drop-in renewable biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel.
The pilot-scale biorefinery projects selected today will use a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks, waste-based materials, and algae in innovative conversion processes. The projects will demonstrate technologies to cost-effectively convert biomass into advanced drop-in biofuels and assist these organizations to scale up the processes to commercial levels. Recipients are required to contribute a minimum of 50% matching funds for these projects.
Joule expands solar CO2 conversion platform to produce renewable gasoline and jet hydrocarbons
April 15, 2013
Joule, the developer of a direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of solar hydrocarbon fuels (earlier post), has extended its solar CO2 conversion platform to produce renewable gasoline- and jet fuel-range hydrocarbons.
Joule has engineered photosynthetic biocatalysts that convert waste CO2 into hydrocarbons through a patented, continuous process. Joule has been successfully scaling its process for making ethanol (Sunflow-E) while also developing long-chain hydrocarbons for diesel (Sunflow-D). With this latest development, Joule can now also directly produce medium-chain hydrocarbons which are substantial components of gasoline (Sunflow-G) and jet fuel (Sunflow-J).
Boeing details improvements to Li-ion battery system for 787; more than 200,000 engineering hours applied so far
March 15, 2013
On 12 March, Boeing received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration of its plan to test and certify improvements to the 787’s Li-ion battery system. (Earlier post.) On 14 March, Mike Sinnett, Vice President and Chief Project Engineer, 787 program provided a technical briefing to media on the set of improvements to the lithium-ion batteries on 787 commercial jetliners.
The company’s intent is to provide three layers of protection: preventing initiation of an event at the cell level; preventing propagation of an event to the other cells in the pack; and preventing impact to the airplane. To do so, Boeing is making changes to the battery, to the battery charger, and is building a new enclosure for the battery.
NASA begins ACCESS flight research to study effects of biojet fuels on engine performance, emissions and contrails
March 01, 2013
NASA researchers have begun a series of flights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of alternate biofuel on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise EmiSSions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles.
During the flights, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants.
UDRI researchers conclude that an algal renewable jet fuel strategy that maximizes the highest liquid fuel yield should focus on renewable diesel
February 08, 2013
Researchers at the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) investigating the conversion of algal triglycerides to renewable diesel and HEFA (hydrotreated esters and fatty acids) renewable jet fuel have concluded that a renewable aviation turbine fuel strategy that preserves the overall highest liquid fuel yield from the renewable feedstocks would target the production of primarily diesel fuel.
Renewable aviation fuel would be recovered from the cracked fraction that naturally accompanies the hydroisomerization of the original n-alkanes derived from the algal triglycerides to the extent required for meeting an appropriate diesel fuel pour point specification. Such an approach would limit the loss of algal alkane fuel value to less than 10%, according to their paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
NTSB investigation into Dreamliner Li-ion fire finds signs of short circuiting, thermal runaway
January 24, 2013
|Damaged electrode with sign of internal short circuit from the 787 Li-ion battery. Source: NTSB. Click to enlarge.|
At a briefing on the progress in the investigation of the Li-ion battery fire on-board a JAL Boeing 787 at Logan Airpot in Boston (earlier post), NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman reported that the investigating team had found signs of electrical short circuiting and thermal runaway in the cells. The NTSB is working to determine the cause.
The next steps in what appears will be a lengthy investigation will be to complete the in-house laboratory examinations; conduct examinations and testing of exemplar batteries; and to synthesize lab examination findings with fire forensics and aviation systems investigation.
UDRI and Air Force researchers ramping up production of new renewable fuel formula for aviation
January 23, 2013
University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) and Air Force researchers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have ramped up production of a new research fuel formula and a fuel derived from seed oils, and now have enough fuel to move from lab testing to testing in engines and auxiliary power systems.
The ACS journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research published an article about the work on the fuel formula—a research jet fuel composition comprising methyl-branched tetradecane isomers—led by Heinz Robota, Ohio Research Scholar in alternative fuels and the Research Institute’s alternative fuels synthesis group leader.
FAA grounds US Boeing 787 Dreamliners after second incident with Li-ion battery; GS Yuasa Lithium Power the manufacturer
January 17, 2013
As a result of an in-flight battery incident on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner yesterday in Japan, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and to require operators to temporarily cease operations of the aircraft.
Before further flight, operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe. The FAA said it will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.
Flight and static engine tests of ReadiJet 100% renewable biojet show significant reduction in emissions, slight improvement in fuel consumption
January 08, 2013
|T33 tailing the Falcon 20 in a test flight to measure emissions. Click to enlarge.|
Results from the world’s first civil flight powered by 100% biofuel that met petroleum fuel specifications without blending released by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) show that the biofuel used in the flight last October is cleaner than and as efficient as conventional aviation fuel. (Earlier post.)
Data collected in-flight revealed a 50% reduction in aerosol emissions when using biofuel compared to conventional fuel. Furthermore, additional tests performed on a static engine showed a significant reduction in particles (up to 25%) and in black carbon emissions (up to 49%) compared to conventional fuel. These tests also show a comparable engine performance, but an improvement of 1.5% in fuel consumption during the steady state operations.
NASA moves Environmentally Responsible Aviation project into next phase of research with 8 large-scale technology demonstrations
NASA has selected eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations to advance aircraft concepts and technologies for reducing the impact of aviation on the environment over the next 30 years.
The demonstrations, which are part of by NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, will focus on five areas: aircraft drag reduction through innovative flow control concepts; weight reduction from advanced composite materials; fuel and noise reduction from advanced engines; emissions reductions from improved engine combustors; and fuel consumption and community noise reduction through innovative airframe and engine integration designs.
Neste Oil to produce 4,000 tons of NExBTL renewable aviation fuel as part of the EU-funded ITAKA project
December 19, 2012
Neste Oil has joined the ITAKA (Initiative Towards Sustainable Kerosene for Aviation) project, which is being funded by the EU to support the commercialization and use of renewable aviation fuel comprising hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids in Europe. Neste Oil’s role in the consortium will be to produce the renewable fuel used in the project.
The 36-month ITAKA project has been granted approximately €10 million (US$13.3 million) of funding under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (2007-2013). In addition to Neste Oil, the consortium members include companies and research centers in: feedstock production (BIOTEHGEN and Camelina Company España); renewable fuel production (RE-CORD); fuel logistics (CLH and SkyNRG); air transport (Airbus, EADS IW UK, Embraer and SENASA); and sustainability assessment (EADS IW France, EPFL and MMU).
Navy researchers project Rotating Detonation-Wave Engines could yield 10% power gain, 25% reduction in fuel burn over gas turbines
November 02, 2012
|Model of a Rotating Wave-Detonation Engine. Head end (fuel input) is at the bottom, nozzle is at the top. The detonation wave travels around the cylinder. Source: NRL. Click to enlarge.|
Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory are computationally studying the complex physics of Rotating Detonation-Wave Engines (RDEs or RDWEs) as a potential means to reduce fuel consumption in the gas-turbine engines upon which the Navy is highly dependent for propulsion.
NRL researchers believe that RDEs have the potential to meet 10% increased power requirements as well as 25% reduction in fuel use for future Navy applications. Currently there are about 430 gas turbine engines on 129 US Navy ships. These engines burn approximately $2 billion worth of fuel each year. By retrofitting these engines with the rotating detonation technology, researchers estimate that the Navy could save approximately $300 to 400 million a year.
Aemetis expands license agreement with Chevron Lummus Global for renewable jet and diesel fuel technology
October 19, 2012
Aemetis, Inc., an advanced fuels and renewable chemical company, signed an expanded, global license agreement with Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) for the production of renewable jet and diesel fuel by the conversion of existing biofuels and petroleum refineries. (Earlier post.)
The expanded license agreement grants Aemetis Advanced Fuels, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aemetis, the use of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process to produce fuels that meet the necessary ASTM requirements for 100% replacement, renewable jet fuel and diesel in Aemetis biorefineries and joint ventures throughout the world. (Earlier post.)
USDA awards Penn State $10M to develop biomass supply chains for liquid transportation and aviation biofuels in Northeast
October 16, 2012
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Pennsylvania State University a five-year research grant valued at roughly $10 million to develop biomass supply chains for the production of liquid transportation and aviation biofuels in the Northeast.
The NEWBio Consortium will focus on the non-food biomass sources of willow, miscanthus and switchgrass, which can be grown on former strip mines and marginal floodplains. Through an integrated research, education and Extension approach, the consortium will address the entire biofuel production spectrum, including crop genetic development, harvesting, storage and processing techniques and sustainable production systems. The biomass research will develop sustainable production practices to improve yield by 25% and reduce costs by 20%.
Chevron Lummus and ARA partner with Agrisoma, US AFRL and Canada’s NRC to evaluate and to flight test ReadiJet 100% renewable biojet fuel
September 13, 2012
|Overview of the ReadiJet process. Click to enlarge.|
Applied Research Associates (ARA) and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) are partnering with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. to evaluate CLG and ARA’s 100% drop-in ReadiJet Fuel derived from Agrisoma Resonance feedstock.
The ReadiJet effort combines ARA’s CH PROCESS technology— a catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH) process to convert triglycerides (e.g., crop oils and animal fats) to non-ester biofuels or intermediates—with Chevron Lummus Global’s ISOCONVERSION process technology to create drop-in biofuels that will be ready to use at 100% levels in jet and diesel engines, eliminating the need for blending with petroleum-derived fuels. (Earlier post.)
Airbus and Tsinghua University partner on aviation biofuels
August 27, 2012
Airbus and Tsinghua University have formed a partnership to complete a sustainability analysis of Chinese feedstocks, and to evaluate how best to support the development of a value chain to speed up the commercialization of aviation bio-fuels. The value chain aims to produce and to promote the use of aviation bio-fuel in China, the world’s fastest growing aviation market.
In phase one, the partnership is assessing suitable feedstocks that comply with ecological, economic and social sustainability criteria. The sustainability analysis is managed by Airbus and involves close collaboration with Tsinghua and leading European institutions. Phase two will narrow down the most promising alternative fuel solutions.
Consolidated bioprocessing company Aemetis licenses plant oil hydroprocessing technology from Chevron Lummus Global for renewable jet and diesel
August 22, 2012
|Outline of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process. Source: ARA. Click to enlarge.|
Aemetis, Inc., originally known as AE Biofuels, an industrial biotechnology company producing renewable chemicals and advanced fuels using patented microbes and processes, has signed a license agreement with Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) for the use of the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process for the production of 100% drop-in renewable jet fuel and diesel from plant oils.
The Biofuels ISOCONVERSION Process utilizes patented Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) reactor technology, developed by Applied Research Associates (ARA). CH utilizes water to reduce hydrogen and catalyst consumption and quickly and inexpensively converts plant oils into stable intermediate oil products which are very similar to petroleum crude oil. The intermediate oils are then hydrotreated and deoxygenated using CLG’s ISOCONVERSION catalysts to produce drop-in jet fuel and diesel.
COMAC of China, Boeing open Energy Conservation Center; first focus on aviation biofuel from waste cooking oil
August 16, 2012
Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and Boeing opened the Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center, a collaborative effort to support commercial aviation industry growth. The Boeing-COMAC Technology Center’s first research project will explore opportunities to refine waste cooking oil, often described in China as “gutter oil,” into sustainable aviation biofuel.
Funded by both companies, the Boeing-COMAC Technology Center is working with China-based universities and research institutions to expand knowledge in areas such as sustainable aviation biofuels and air traffic management that improve commercial aviation’s efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. It is located in COMAC’s new Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute (BASTRI).
FT and FT blends significantly reduce gaseous and particulate emissions compared to conventional JP-8 fuel in helicopter engine
August 05, 2012
Using Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel or blend can significantly reduce gaseous particulate matter and gaseous emissions compared to standard military jet (JP-8) fuel when used in a T63 gas-turbine helicopter engine, according to a new study by a team from the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Carnegie Mellon University and their colleagues from Penn State Grater Allegheny, the University of Miami, and the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
The goal of their study was to understand how alternative fuels affect the primary PM emissions, the semi-volatile nature of the these emissions, and the potential for the emissions to form secondary PM. The team characterized particle and gaseous emissions using three fuels: standard military jet fuel (JP-8), Fischer–Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel, and a 50:50 blend of each. A paper on the results is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
University Of Dayton Research Institute wins $3M funding to develop materials for additive manufacturing of aircraft engine components
July 27, 2012
The Ohio Third Frontier awarded $3 million to the University of Dayton Research Institute to provide specialized materials for use in additive manufacturing. UDRI will work with program partners, Stratasys, PolyOne and Rapid Prototype Plus Manufacturing Inc. to develop aircraft-engine components for GE Aviation—who also collaborated on the program proposal—as well as parts and components for ATK Aerospace Structures, Boeing, Goodrich, Honda, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
3-D printing technology has existed for about 20 years, but additive manufacturing in its current form is only about five years old, said Brian Rice, head of UDRI’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers Division and program lead for the Third Frontier-funded Advanced Materials for Additive Manufacturing Maturation program. (Earlier post.)
UOP looking to biomass catalytic pyrolysis to expand volumes of renewable hydrocarbon fuels
July 21, 2012
Honeywell’s UOP—a major international supplier and licensor of technology for petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical production and major manufacturing industries—has also been an early leader in developing technologies for the production of renewable drop-in hydrocarbon fuels.
The company currently has three major initiatives in that area: the commercialization of the hydrotreating UOP/Eni Ecofining process to convert fats, greases and non-edible, second-generation natural oils to Honeywell Green Diesel (earlier post); Green Jet Fuel (earlier post); and its joint venture with Ensyn Corporation, Envergent Technologies, for the pyrolytic conversion of forest and agricultural waste residues to a liquid renewable oil and subsequent upgrading (earlier post). It’s the last initiative that UOP currently believes has a good opportunity for delivering high volumes of renewable liquid hydrocarbon fuels, according to Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit.
First Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) test flight; Gevo provided isobutanol-derived renewable kerosene
July 03, 2012
|Three pathways to renewable jet fuel: FT (left); hydrogenated oil (center); ATJ (right). Source: Gevo. Click to enlarge.|
The US Air Force (USAF) last week flew the first test flight using “alcohol-to-jet” (ATJ) fuel. (Earlier post.) Gevo, Inc., the provider of the fuel, worked with the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL), the Air Force Alternative Fuels Certification Division (AFCD) and the 40 Flight-Test Squadron, provided the isobutanol-derived renewable kerosene fuel for the successful flight.
Gevo produced the ATJ fuel from isobutanol at its hydrocarbon processing demonstration plant near Houston, Texas, in partnership with South Hampton Resources.
US Navy and USDA make $30M available for commercial-scale advanced drop-in biofuels, with potential for $180M follow-on; $32M from DOE for earlier stage research
July 02, 2012
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Navy will provide $30 million in federal funding (FOA-12-15-PKM) for Phase 1 projects to match private investments in commercial-scale advanced drop-in biofuels. The program envisions a subsequent investment of up to $180M in follow-on Phase 2 projects.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is also announcing a total of $32 million in new investments through two earlier-issued solicitations (DE-FOA-0000739 (earlier post) and DE-FOA-0000719) (earlier post) for earlier stage biofuels research that will continue to drive technological breakthroughs and additional cost reductions in the industry and that complement the commercial-scale efforts announced by the Navy and USDA.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack highlights USDA, GE efforts to commercialize renewable jet fuel for Ohio aviation industry
June 28, 2012
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted USDA’s collaboration with General Electric (GE) Aviation, the Ohio Aerospace Institute, air carriers and producer groups to develop a Midwest-regional strategy to provide renewable-jet fuel at GE Aviation’s Cincinnati-area facilities.
The effort is bringing together agricultural producers, processing and transportation entities, refiners and finishers, academics and researchers, and analysts and financial entities. GE Aviation anticipates purchasing up to 5 million gallons of renewable-jet fuel beginning in 2015.
Researchers produce high density renewable fuels from terpenes; potential use as significant components of jet, diesel and tactical fuels
June 04, 2012
|Isomerization/dimerization of β-pinene. Source: Meylemans et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake have developed a process for the synthesis of high energy density renewable fuels through the selective dimerization of α-pinene, camphene, limonene and crude turpentine using the heterogeneous catalysts Nafion, Nafion SAC-13, and Montmorillonite K-10. The terpene dimers are producing in up to 90% yield, depending upon the feedstock.
Fuel produced from this process have net heats of combustion ranging from 137 kBtu to 142 kBtu/gal (38.1 to 39.5 MJ/L)—comparable to the tactical missile fuel JP-10 (142 kBtu/gal). In a paper published in the journal Fuel, the China Lake team suggests that the ultra-performance renewable fuels have potential applications as significant components of jet, diesel and tactical fuels.