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[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.]

U Delaware team develops efficient catalyst for production of renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes from biomass under mild conditions

August 16, 2017

A team at the University of Delaware has synthesized renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes by hydrodeoxygenation of lignocellulose-derived high-carbon furylmethanes over ReOx-modified Ir/SiO2 catalysts under mild reaction conditions (170 ˚C, 5 MPa). Their paper is featured on the cover of the journal ChemSusChem.

In their work, they found that Ir−ReOx/SiO2 with a Re/Ir molar ratio of 2:1 exhibits the best performance, achieving a combined alkanes yield of 82–99% from C12–C15 furylmethanes. The catalyst can be regenerated in three consecutive cycles with only about 12% loss in the combined alkanes yield.

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AFRL APTO tests EPS Graflight V-8 diesel for unmanned aircraft; 40% less fuel than typical engine, less vibration

August 13, 2017

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office, along with Engineered Propulsion Systems and the Arnold Engineering and Development Center, recently concluded ground-based testing of an advanced diesel engine that promises to increase the utility and ease the logistics burden of military aircraft missions.

The high-efficiency aviation diesel engine is a potential replacement for current manned and unmanned aircraft internal combustion engines. Designed by Engineered Propulsion Systems as part of an AFRL effort, the Graflight V-8, 4.3-liter engine is a “clean sheet” design specifically intended for aircraft use. It is liquid-cooled and capable of using either a composite or aluminum propeller.

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California Energy Commission to award up to $3M to support development of bio-oil as intermediate for renewable jet fuel

August 12, 2017

The California Energy Commission is issuing a solicitation (GFO-17-901) to provide up to $3 million in funding for innovative, pre-commercial low-carbon fuel production processes that result in the development of bio-oil as an intermediate fuel with wide-scale adoption potential used for renewable jet fuel production.

For the purpose of the solicitation, bio-oil is defined as a synthetic or organic equivalent to crude oil such as bio-crude. Funding will support pilot-scale demonstrations of a thermochemical platform using advanced thermochemical conversion methods successfully proven at the lab or bench scale to efficiently produce bio-based intermediate fuel and potential co-products. Applicants must site a demo facility in California that will produce a minimum of 50,000 gallons of bio-oil intermediate fuel over the term of the project.

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Pathway for CO2 catalytic processing of oleic acid into C8-C15 alkanes; jet-range hydrocarbons

August 01, 2017

Researchers in China are proposing new pathways for the CO2 catalytic conversion of oleic acid into C8-C15 alkanes. The yield of C8–C15 products reaches 73.10 mol% in a CO2 atmosphere—much higher than the 49.67 mol% yield obtained in an H2 atmosphere.

In the the absence of an external H2 source, the researchers report generating aviation fuel-like products through the aromatization of C3H6, oxidative dehydrogenation involving CO2 and C3H8, and hydrogen transfer reactions account for hydrogen liberation in oleic acid and achieve its re-arrangement in the final alkane products. A paper on their work appears in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.

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Continental Motors Group expands general aviation diesel engine family with new fixed- and rotary-wing variants

July 29, 2017

Continental Motors Group is expanding its family of diesel aero engines with the CD-265 and CDR-285 engines. The CD-265 is intended for fixed-winged applications while the CDR-285 is designed for rotary wing applications.

As the other members of the CD-200 family, the CD-265 and CDR-285 are horizontally-opposed (boxer), four-cylinder, direct-injection, air-cooled turbocharged engines. The new 5.0-liter engines, with a compression ratio of 15:1, produce 265 hp at 2500 rpm and 285 hp at 2700 rpm. Both derive from the CD-230 that was first certified by Continental Motors in December 2012.

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Parker Aerospace offering lubrication, combustion, & thermal management systems to cut aircraft engine weight, fuel consumption, and emissions

June 24, 2017

Parker Aerospace, a business segment of Parker Hannifin Corporation is introducing technologies designed to enhance the efficiency of aerospace engines in the areas of lubrication, combustion, and thermal management systems.

Engine lubrication innovations include the first-time use of composite materials for engine lubrication reservoirs, deploying oil demister technology to reduce emissions, and the development of sophisticated test rigs to optimize engine lubrication systems. Among the Parker Aerospace innovations in engine combustion are ecology tanks, enhanced combustor and fuel atomization nozzle design, and flexible lines for fuel manifolds. Parker Aerospace is also developing highly efficient, low-profile thermal management equipment to save envelope and weight on the engine.

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Airbus Helicopters unveils Racer high-speed demonstrator configuration; in-flight “start-and-stop”

June 21, 2017

At the Paris air show, Airbus Helicopters unveiled the aerodynamic configuration of the high speed demonstrator it is developing as part of the Clean Sky 2 European research program. Codenamed Racer (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft), this demonstrator will incorporate a number of innovative features and will be optimized for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h (249 mph).

It will aim at achieving the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance. Final assembly of the demonstrator is expected to start in 2019, with a first flight the next year.

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New efficient biphasic catalytic process for conversion of biomass to dense jet-range fuels

June 13, 2017

Most current bio-jet fuels consist primarily of linear or branched chain alkanes; they suffer from low densities (~0.76 g/mL) and low volumetric heating values compared with those of petro-jet fuels. As a result, most alternative fuels have to blend with petro-jet fuels to meet the energy density requirements.

Cyclic hydrocarbons (i.e. cycloalkanes) can be used to make dense jet fuels with high thermal stability. However, industrial synthesis is costly, and the precursor from hydrocracking of petroleum has low selectivity. Now, researchers from the University of Nevada and Washington State University have developed a novel efficient biphasic tandem catalytic process (biTCP) for synthesizing cycloalkanes from renewable terpenoid biomass (such as 1,8-cineole). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.

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DLR and Lufthansa Technik investigate aviation biofuels in large-scale test

June 08, 2017

In a large-scale test, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with Lufthansa Technik and the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants, investigated the chemical and physical properties of particularly promising aviation biofuels. The tests were carried out in a special test rig at Lufthansa Technik.

The European Union-funded “High Biofuel Blends in Aviation” (HBBA) study focused on blends—i.e. mixtures of conventional kerosene with biofuels. The study analyzed particularly promising biofuels, according to source, production process and approval status.

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Singapore Airlines & CAAS partner on “Green Package” flights; biofuels, optimized operations and fuel-efficient A350-950

May 04, 2017

Singapore Airlines (SIA), in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has started operating a series of 12 “green package” flights over a three-month period on its non-stop San Francisco-Singapore route. The green package flights are the first to combine the use of biofuels, fuel-efficient aircraft—SIA’s Airbus A350-900—and optimized flight operations. CAAS is facilitating the use of optimized flight operations and Air Traffic Management (ATM) best practices which reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions for the flights.

The first of the 12 flights, SQ31, departed San Francisco at 1121hrs (San Francisco Time) on 1 May 2017 and arrived in Singapore at 1910 hrs (Singapore Time) on 2 May with 206 passengers on board. Over the three-month period, flight SQ31 will be powered by a combination of HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids), a sustainable biofuel produced from used cooking oils, and conventional jet fuel. The biofuel, produced by AltAir Fuels, will be supplied and delivered to San Francisco by SkyNRG in collaboration with North American Fuel Corporation (NAFCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aviation Oil (Singapore), and EPIC Fuels.

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Technion team devises method for on-demand H2 production from water and aluminum for aviation applications

April 28, 2017

Aerospace engineers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed and patented a process for on-demand hydrogen production from the reaction of activated aluminum powder and water for commercial aircraft applications. The hydrogen produced on-board during flight can be used in a fuel cell to generate electric energy for auxiliary power.

In addition to fresh water, the waste water available on-board the aircraft can be used for hydrogen generation. The researchers demonstrated high reaction rates producing about 200-600 ml/min/g Al of hydrogen at a high yield of about 90% was demonstrated. The possibility to use the available waste water leads to high specific electric energy of up to about 850 Wh/kg. The work was reported in a recent paper published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

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Air Canada to operate biofuel flights in support of environmental research on contrails and emissions

April 24, 2017

Air Canada is participating in the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER), a research project led by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrails.

This project will use advanced sensing equipment mounted on a research aircraft operated by the NRC to measure the impact of biofuel blends on contrail formation by aircraft on five biofuel flights operated by Air Canada between Montreal and Toronto in the coming days, weather permitting. During these flights the National Research Council of Canada will trail the Air Canada aircraft with a modified T-33 research jet to sample and test the contrail biofuel emissions. The sustainable biofuel is produced by AltAir Fuels from used cooking oil and supplied by SkyNRG.

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ICCT: alternative jet fuels unlikely to deliver the bulk of GHG emission reductions needed by aviation

April 10, 2017

A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has concluded that the large-scale deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) and the ability of the aviation sector to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through their use will be capped by a number of factors: the sustainability and availability of feedstock; the production cost; and the extent to which those fuels will be commercialized.

Based on the study, the ICCT team suggests that while the use of AJFs can deliver some GHG savings, it is unlikely that AJF alone can meet the bulk of the GHG reductions projected to be needed. The authors recommended that ICAO stipulate a GHG reduction threshold in order for a given AJF to qualify under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), and to include indirect emissions in its life-cycle accounting.

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Boeing and Jet Blue back Zunum Aero, startup developing hybrid electric aircraft; focus on regional airports

April 06, 2017

Startup Zunum Aero, founded in 2013, is developing regional hybrid-electric aircraft for the early 2020s. Zunum is targeting 700 miles of range at launch to more than 1,000 miles by 2030. Zunum Aero intends for its 10- to 50-seat aircraft to enable frequent service to the nation’s network of more than 5,000 underutilized regional and general aviation airports. Zunum Aero is backed by Boeing and JetBlue Technology Ventures, a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways.

Zunum estimates that its hybrid aircraft will deliver 80% lower emissions, dropping to zero over time as battery densities improve, along with a 75% drop in community noise, opening up all-hours access to smaller airports.

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Saab Gripen fighter completes first test flights with 100% biofuel; CHCJ-5

A Saab Gripen fighter has for the first time undergone a series of test flights with 100% biofuel. This demonstrates that the aircraft can be flown entirely with an alternative fuel and gives valuable knowledge for future possible use of alternative fuel.

The tested fuel—Catalytic Hydrothermal Conversion Jet fuel (CHCJ-5)—was made from rapeseed oil. CHC fuels—which are also being evaluated by the US Navy for inclusion in the JP-5 spec (earlier post)—use a catalytic hydrothermolysis process that chemically converts renewable feedstocks such as triglycerides, plant oils, and fatty acids into a mixture of paraffins, cycloparaffins, aromatics, olefins, and organic acids. The resulting mixture is then hydroprocessed and fractionated to produce a kerosene (or diesel) product having a distillation profile comparable to traditional petroleum derived fuels.

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Siemens-powered electric plane sets two new speed records; first aerotow

April 04, 2017

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane, powered by a propulsion system from Siemens (earlier post), set two new speed records. At the Dinslaken Schwarze Heide airfield in Germany, the electric aircraft reached a top speed of around 337.50 km/h (209.7 mph) over a distance of three kilometers. The speed achieved by pilot Walter Extra was 13.48 km/h faster than the previous record, which had been set by US pilot William M. Yates in 2013.

The World Air Sports Federation (FAI) officially recognized the record flight in the category “Electric airplanes with a take-off weight less than 1,000 kilograms.” The Extra also set a new FAI world record in the category “above 1,000 kilograms”: in a slightly modified configuration with an overall weight exceeding one metric ton, test pilot Walter Kampsmann flew the electrically powered plane at a speed of 342.86 km/h (213.0 mph).

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Ghent researchers develop new process to convert grass to drop-in hydrocarbon decane

Researchers at Ghent University have developed a process that turns grass into the hydrocarbon decane via a lactic acid intermediate. The process was the basis for the doctoral dissertation of Way Cern Khor.

To improve the biodegradability of grass, pretreatments such as extrusion and calcium hydroxide pretreatment were performed; efficiencies were tested through biogas production. Next, a fermentation process using mixed microbial populations was carried out to produce higher value products such as lactic acid.

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DOE BETO report provides overview of current state of alternative aviation fuels; overcoming technical and commercial barriers

March 29, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has published a report titled Alternative Aviation Fuels: Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps. The report provides an overview of the current state of alternative aviation fuels, as reported in findings by recent working groups, and also presents findings from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop hosted by BETO in September 2016.

Unlike other liquid fuels (e.g., diesel or gasoline) with developed alternatives (such as electrical power), alternatives to current aviation jet fuels are at the early stages of development. In the near term, the most promising option is bio-derived aviation fuel. Bio-based jet fuels also present a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels towards domestically produced aviation biofuel that would further reduce US reliance on foreign oil and create jobs, BETO notes.

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California ARB staff considering including alternative jet fuel in Low Carbon Fuel Standard

March 17, 2017

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff is considering including alternative jet fuel (AJF) in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). ARB staff is hosting a public working meeting today to consider the matter.

In 2009, the ARB approved the LCFS regulation to reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuel used in California by at least 10% by 2020 from a 2010 baseline. In 2015, the Board re-adopted the LCFS to address procedural issues, which began implementation on 1 January 2016. The LCFS sets annual carbon intensity standards—which reduce over time—for gasoline, diesel, and the fuels that replace them.

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NASA-led study finds 50 vol% biofuel blend reduces soot particle emissions during aircraft cruising; reduced climatic impact of contrails

March 16, 2017

A 50:50 by volume blend of conventional Jet A aviation fuel and an aviation biofuel made from Camelina reduces soot particle number and mass emissions from the aircraft by 50 to 70% compared to conventional fuel, YYYY according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature. The findings are based on an international flight experiment between NASA, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada.

The results provide important information on how the use of biofuels in aviation can contribute to making air transport more environmentally friendly—not only by reducing emissions in the vicinity of airports, but also at cruise conditions.

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DLR, AEB developing new injection heads enabling use of ethanol as rocket fuel

February 16, 2017

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Brazilian aerospace agency Agência Espacial Brasileira (AEB) have successfully completed the first burn tests for two newly designed injection heads enabling the development of a new rocket that is fueled with oxygen and alcohol.

The final injection head will eventually be the core of the new L75 liquid propellant rocket engine (LPRE), intended to propel a Brazilian small launch vehicle in the future. The engine delivers 75 kN thrust, fueled with liquid oxygen and ethanol, with a burn time of up to 400 seconds. (For comparison, Space X’s Falcon 9’s second stage—used to place large payloads into orbit—is powered by a single Merlin engine with 934 kN thrust. Falcon 9’s first stage delivers 7,607 kN at sea level.) The burn test series for the upper stage engine was completed within the framework of a German-Brazilian partnership established in 2011.

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Electric airplane sets ascent record with Siemens drive system

January 29, 2017

An electric-drive Extra 330LE aerobatics plane recently set a world record in ascent in the category of “Electric aircraft weighing up to 1,000 kilograms. The pilot reached an altitude of 3,000 meters in only four minutes and 22 seconds, beating the previous record by one minute and 10 seconds. The airplane rose into the air at 11.5 meters per second.

The plane is equipped with a SP260D electric drive system from Siemens that has a continuous power output of 260 kW, continuous torque of 1,000 N·m, weighs only 50 kg, and thus offers an excellent power-to-weight ratio. (Earlier post.) Pilot Walter Extra broke the previous record set by the American pilot William M. Yates in 2013. The World Air Sports Federation—Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI)—recognized the record-breaking flight.

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US DOD to award $55M for advanced drop-in biofuels production; 10M gallons/year

January 25, 2017

The US Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/RX) has issued a funding opportunity (FOA-RQKM-2017-0006) for up to $55 million to design, retrofit, construct, operate, validate and qualify domestic, commercial-scale, an integrated biorefinery(s) capable of producing bio-equivalent fuels suitable for military use with a rated capacity of at least 10 million gallons of neat biofuel per year. Cost competitiveness of the neat biofuel fraction with conventional petroleum-derived fuels is a primary goal.

The biorefinery—which may be either a brownfield expansion/modification of existing facilities, or new greenfield construction—is required to use domestic feedstock, and create an Integrated Biofuels Production Enterprise (IBPE). Expansions must add an additional 10 million gpy of capacity; new construction must support the 10 million gpy capacity.

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Port of Seattle, Boeing and Alaska Airlines release aviation biofuel infrastructure findings

January 17, 2017

​The Port of Seattle, Boeing and Alaska Airlines released a first-of-its-kind study that identifies the best infrastructure options for delivering aviation biofuel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In pursuit of its goal to power every flight at Sea-Tac with sustainable aviation biofuel, Sea-Tac is among the first airports in North America to work with aviation, energy and research partners to systematically evaluate all aspects to developing a commercial-scale program from scratch.

The objective of the study was to identify the best approach to deliver up to 50 million gallons (and to double to 100 million after 2025) of aviation biofuel per year into the fuel hydrant delivery system at Sea-Tac International Airport. A total of 29 sites across the state were identified and screened. The sites were located in King, Pierce, Whatcom, Skagit, Grays Harbor and Franklin Counties, Washington.

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DOE awards LanzaTech $4M for low-carbon jet & diesel demo plant; 3M gpy; Audi evaluating fuel properties

December 30, 2016

LanzaTech has been selected by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to receive a $4-million award to design and plan a demonstration-scale facility using industrial off gases to produce 3 million gallons/year of low-carbon jet and diesel fuels. The LanzaTech award was one of six totaling $12.9 million. (Earlier post.)

The LanzaTech facility will recycle industrial waste gases from steel manufacturing to produce a low cost ethanol intermediate: “Lanzanol.” Both Lanzanol and cellulosic ethanol will then be converted to jet fuel via the Alcohol-to-Jet" (ATJ) process developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). (Earlier post.)

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Researchers in China develop new process for direct synthesis of drop-in jet-fuel-range blendstock from lignocellulose

December 29, 2016

Researchers in China have developed an integrated two-bed continuous flow reactor process for the direct synthesis with high carbon yields (~70%) of dodecanol (C12H26O) or 2,4,8- trimethylnonane (C12H26O2)—a jet-fuel-range C12 branched alkane—from methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), which can be derived from lignocellulose.

The dodecanol as obtained can be used as the feedstocks in the production of sodium dodecylsulphate (SDS) and sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate (SDBS)—widely used as surfactants or detergents. The 2,4,8-trimethylnonane as obtained can be blended into conventional jet fuel without hydroisomerization. A paper on their work is published in the journal ChemSusChem.

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Study: growth in aviation and shipping GHG emissions will undo 43% of savings from rest of transport in Europe through 2030

December 12, 2016

Growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping and aviation, based on demand for liquid fossil fuels, will undo nearly half (43%) of the

savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, according to a new study by consultant CE Delft, commissioned by environmental NGO Transport & Environment.

Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010, according to calculations on the European Commission’s projections for greenhouse gas emissions to 2050 by consultant CE Delft. Even this 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what will be required from land transport under the EU’s proposed 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation.

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NASA testing new boundary layer ingesting (BLI) propulsor; 4-8% fuel burn savings over current advanced engines

Engineers at NASA Glenn are testing a new boundary layer ingesting (BLI) inlet-fan combination—the first of its kind ever to be tested. Originally conceived of as a propulsion system for generation-after-next (N+2), the BLI system could increase fuel efficiency by 4-8% more than the advanced engines airlines are beginning to use.

On today’s jet aircraft, the engines are typically located away from the aircraft’s body to avoid ingesting the layer of slower flowing air that develops along the aircraft’s surfaces, called boundary layer. Aerospace engineers believe they can reduce fuel burn by embedding an aircraft’s engines into these surfaces and ingesting the boundary layer air flow to propel the aircraft through its mission.

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WSU Tri-Cities researchers receive $50K NSF grant to test market potential for lignin pathway for biojet

December 03, 2016

Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities have been awarded a $50,000 National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to explore the commercialization potential of their new pathway for biojet from biomass waste. The WSU process, described in a 2015 paper in the RSC journal Green Chemistry, uses hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of dilute alkali extracted corn stover lignin catalyzed by a noble metal catalyst (Ru/Al2O3) and acidic zeolite (H+-Y) to produce lignin-substructure-based hydrocarbons (C7-C18), primarily C12-C18 cyclic structure hydrocarbons in the jet fuel range. (Earlier post.)

Current biorefineries undervalue lignin’s potential, largely because selective conversion of lignin has proven to be challenging. Processes that have been successful at breaking the lignin bonds have typically resulted in shorter chain monomers as opposed to the longer chain hydrocarbons needed for fuel. In contrast, the output of the WSU processis a mix of hydrocarbons that are long-chain and can be made into nearly the right mix for jet fuel.

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New pathway for producing jet fuel range alkanes from plastics

November 21, 2016

Researchers at Washington State University have developed a novel route for the production of jet fuel range alkanes at high carbon yields from plastics. The process combines catalytic microwave-assisted degradation of low-density polyethylene (a model compound of plastics waste) followed by hydrogenation.

In a paper published in the journal Fuel, the team reported that, depending on the catalyst, the overall carbon yields of organics from raw plastics were approximately 54 or 63%. The raw organics (with the higher yield) could be hydrogenated to fit JP-5 navy fuel at 200 °C, while the raw organics (with the lower yield) could be hydrogenated to match high energy-density jet fuels (e.g. RJ-5 and JP-10) under very low-severity conditions.

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BP takes $30M stake in Fulcrum Bioenergy; 500M gallon renewable jet offtake agreement

November 08, 2016

Fulcrum BioEnergy and BP signed a major strategic partnership that includes a $30-million equity investment in Fulcrum by BP. With Fulcrum’s first plant under construction, this partnership accelerates the construction schedule for Fulcrum’s next renewable jet fuel plants.

Fulcrum and Air BP, the aviation division of BP, have also agreed to terms on a 500-million gallon jet fuel offtake agreement that will provide Air BP with 50 million gallons per year of low-carbon, drop-in jet fuel. Air BP will also have the opportunity to provide fuel supply chain services for the blending, certification and delivery of Fulcrum’s jet fuel to commercial and military aviation customers.

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In-flight wireless power transfer for drones

October 21, 2016

Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated a highly efficient inductive method for wirelessly transferring power to a drone while it is flying. Theoretically, this wireless power transfer (WPT) technology could allow flying drones to stay airborne indefinitely by simply hovering over a ground support vehicle to recharge. The team estimates it is one year away from a commercially available product.

The technology uses inductive coupling, similar to the technology being developed for WPT for electric vehicles. To demonstrate their approach, the Imperial College London researchers bought an off-the-shelf quadcopter drone—around 12 cm (4.7 inches) in diameter—and altered its electronics and removed its battery. They made a copper foil ring receiving antennae that encircles the drone’s casing. On the ground, a transmitter device made out of a circuit board was connected to electronics and a power source, creating a magnetic field.

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NASA to test in-flight folding spanwise adaptive wing (SAW) to enhance aircraft efficiency; advanced actuators

October 18, 2016

NASA is developing and validating a system that will allow part of an aircraft’s wing to fold in flight to increase efficiency through wing adaptation.

Engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Glenn Research Center in Ohio, are working on the Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept, or SAW. The concept would permit the outboard portions of the wings to move to the optimal position during operation. This could increase efficiency by reducing drag and increasing lift and performance.

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NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) began testing in September; advancing electric propulsion for aircraft

Engineers at the NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) at NASA Glenn Research Center ran the new facility’s first test in September. Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion technical lead, and his team used 600 volts of electricity and successfully tested an electrical power system that could realistically power a small, one or two person aircraft.

NEAT’s mission is to help engineers design, develop and test systems for electric aircraft. Once complete, NEAT will be a world-class, reconfigurable testbed that will be used to assemble and test the power systems for large passenger airplanes with over 20 Megawatts of power.

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New three-step process for conversion of vegetable oils into cycloparaffinic and aromatic biofuels in jet fuel range

October 17, 2016

A team from the University of Science & Technology of China in Hefei has developed a three-step process for the conversion of vegetable oils (triglycerides) into cycloparaffinic and aromatic biofuels in jet fuel range.

This process cracks vegetable oils into light aromatics over the zeolite catalyst (HZSM-5(80)), followed by the aromatic alkylation of the resulting light aromatics using the ionic liquid [bmim]Cl-2AlCl3, followed by the hydrogenation of the aromatics over a Pd/AC catalyst. As reported in a paper in the journal Fuel, the process produced 86.2 wt% of C8–C15 aromatics after alkylation, yielding 84.3 wt% monocyclic cycloparaffins after hydrogenation.

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Gevo produces first cellulosic renewable jet fuel specified for use on commercial airline flights

October 12, 2016

Gevo, Inc. has completed production of the world’s first cellulosic renewable jet fuel that is specified for commercial flights. Gevo successfully adapted its patented technologies to convert cellulosic sugars derived from wood waste into renewable isobutanol, which was then further converted into Gevo’s Alcohol-to-Jet fuel (ATJ) fuel. (Earlier post.)

This ATJ meets the ASTM D7566 specification allowing it to be used for commercial flights. The revisions to the ASTM D7566 specification, which occurred earlier this year, includes ATJ derived from renewable isobutanol, regardless of the carbohydrate feedstock (i.e. cellulosics, corn, sugar cane, molasses, etc.). (Earlier post.)

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ICAO agrees to market-based measure to address aviation CO2

October 07, 2016

The UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed to recommend adoption of a final Resolution text on a new global market-based measure (GMBM) to control CO2 emissions from international aviation.

ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures the air transport community is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation. These include technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

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New ICCT study identifies significant potential to reduce aviation fuel consumption by up to 40% by 2034

September 27, 2016

A new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) identifies significant potential to reduce aviation emissions through emerging fuel efficiency technologies.

The study summarizes the results of the first independent, bottom-up cost assessment of near- (2024) and mid-term (2034) technologies to improve new aircraft fuel efficiency. Carried out in cooperation with a panel of top technical experts and consultants using NASA and DoD-approved models to evaluate aviation technology programs, the study concludes that the rate of fuel efficiency improvement for new aircraft can be more than doubled through 2034, from about 1% today to 2.2% annually, by the adoption of cost effective technologies to improve engine efficiency, reduce aerodynamic drag, and trim aircraft empty weight.

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Navy tests 100-percent CHCJ advanced biofuel in EA-18G

September 20, 2016

The US Navy has completed flight testing of a 100% advanced biofuel in the EA-18G “Green Growler” at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The US Navy is a leader in incorporating alternative fuel into operational supplies, in order to increase mission capability and flexibility.

The catalytic hydrothermal conversion-to-jet (CHCJ) process 100% alternative fuel performed as expected during a ground test 30 August at NAWCAD’s Aircraft Test and Evaluation Facility (ATEF), followed by the first test flight 1 September, said Rick Kamin, energy and fuels lead for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Kamin also leads the alternative fuel test and qualification program for the Navy.

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JetBlue enters 10-year renewable HEFA SPK jet fuel purchase agreement with SG Preston; 33M gallons of 30% blend per year

September 19, 2016

JetBlue announced a ten-year renewable jet fuel purchase agreement with SG Preston, a bioenergy company. The airline will purchase renewable jet fuel made from rapidly renewable, bio-based feedstocks that do not compete with food production. This marks one of the largest renewable jet fuel purchase agreements yet, and the largest, long-term, binding commitment by any airline globally for HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) SPK (synthetic paraffinic kerosene) -based renewable jet fuel.

To launch the strategic relationship with SG Preston, JetBlue plans to purchase more than 33 million gallons of blended jet fuel per year for at least 10 years. The fuel will consist of 30% renewable jet fuel blended with 70% traditional Jet-A fuel.

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LanzaTech produces 1,500 gallons of alcohol-to-jet fuel from waste gases for Virgin Atlantic

September 14, 2016

In a milestone for the low-carbon fuel project, LanzaTech has produced 1,500 gallons of jet fuel from waste industrial gases from steel mills via a fermentation process for Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech have been working together on the project since 2011. HSBC joined the partnership in 2014.

The “Lanzanol” was produced in China at the RSB (Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials) certified Shougang demonstration facility. The innovative alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) process was developed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) with support from the US Department of Energy (DOE) and with the help of funding from HSBC.

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China team develops pathway for producing renewable aviation-range hydrocarbons and aromatics from oleic acid without added H2

August 25, 2016

Researchers from Zhejiang University; SINOPEC’s Fushun Research Institute of Petroleum and Petrochemicals; Nanjing Tech University; and Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry have developed an “atom-economic” approach to produce renewable drop-in aviation-range hydrocarbons and aromatics from oleic acid (C18H34O2, a fatty acid that occurs naturally in various animal and vegetable fats and oils) without an added hydrogen donor. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

The conversion of oleic acid in the process was 100%, and the yield of heptadecane (C17H36, the main product) can reach 71% after 80 min at 350 °C. The process also produced an aromatics yield of 19%; aromatics are a critical component of aviation fuels due to their ability to maintain the swelling of fuel system elastomers. The results, said the researchers, indicate that their process is a complicated reaction system including in situ hydrogen transfer, aromatization, decarboxylation, and cracking.

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MIT team calculates lead emissions from avgas fuel in US contribute to ~$1B in annual damages due to IQ losses

August 24, 2016

Researchers at MIT have produced the first assessment of the annual costs of IQ losses from aircraft lead emissions in the US. Their study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that that atmospheric lead pollution attributable to leaded aviation gas (avgas) contributes to US$1.06 billion (the mean from a range of $0.01–$11.6 billion) in annual damages from lifetime earnings reductions, and that dynamic economy-wide methods result in damage estimates that are 54% larger.

Because the marginal costs of atmospheric lead pollution are dependent on background concentration, the researchers also expect the costs of piston-driven aircraft lead emissions to increase over time as regulations on other emissions sources are tightened.

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PNNL-Lanzatech team hits milestone on waste-gas-to-ethanol-to-jet project

August 23, 2016

With funding from Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been working with industry-partner LanzaTech to convert alcohols derived from captured carbon monoxide, a byproduct in the production of steel, into synthetic paraffinic kerosene, a non-fossil-based jet fuel. The technology not only provides a viable source of sustainable jet fuel but also reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere.

The team recently reached a significant milestone on the project, producing over five gallons of synthetic paraffinic kerosene in a lab environment. Five gallons is the quantity needed for “fit-for-purpose” testing.

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Solar Impulse 2 used Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC batteries in round-the-world solar flight

August 17, 2016

The Solar Impulse 2—the solar airplane that recently completed a round-the-world flight—used batteries from Kokam, based on that company’s advanced Ultra High Energy Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) Oxide (Ultra High Energy NMC) technology.

The Solar Impulse uses four 38.5 kWh Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC battery packs—one in each motor housing—with 150 Ah cells totaling 154 kWh of energy storage. Over the course of 17 flights totaling 26,744 miles (43,041 kilometers), the Solar Impulse 2’s 17,248 mono-crystalline silicon solar cells—mounted atop the wings, fuselage and horizontal stabilizer—produced 11,000 kWh of electricity, much of which was stored in its Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC batteries and then discharged to power the plane at night.

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