[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.]
Amyris and Total form joint venture to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel
December 05, 2013
Amyris, Inc. and Total have formed Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V., a 50-50 joint venture that now holds exclusive rights and a license under Amyris’s intellectual property to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris’s renewable farnesene. (Earlier post.) Total is Amyris’ largest investor, holding approximately 18% of its outstanding common stock, and is committed to the development of next-generation renewable fuels from biomass.
Amyris’ synthetic biology platform enables the modification of the genetic pathways of microorganisms, primarily yeast, to turn them into living factories to produce target molecules via fermentation. The primary biological pathway within the microbe Amyris currently uses to produce target molecules is the isoprenoid pathway.
Shell develops lead-free aviation gasoline
December 04, 2013
Shell has developed a lead-free replacement for aviation gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL); the replacement fuel will now begin a strict regulatory approvals process. Shell is the first major oil company to do so. The new lead-free formulation comes after 10 years of R&D, as well as successful initial testing, carried out in the last two months by two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Avgas is one of the last common transportation fuels—and the only fuel in the US—to contain the additive tetraethyl lead (TEL); avgas is used by light aircraft and helicopters. (Leaded gasoline for automobiles was phased out of use in the US by 1995 due to its environmental and health impact.) Avgas includes lead in its formulation to meet fuel specifications, to boost combustion performance, and to prevent knock.
NASA, Boeing finish tests of 757 vertical tail with active flow control technology
November 15, 2013
|The full-sized test tail modified and equipped with sweeping jet actuators. (Image credit: NASA Ames Research Center) Click to enlarge.|
NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center, in partnership with The Boeing Co., have completed wind tunnel testing of a full-scale Boeing 757 vertical tail model equipped with active flow control (AFC) technology. The project is one of eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations that are part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project. (Earlier post.)
Active flow control involves the manipulation of a flow field—through the addition of energy—to improve the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft structure. Active flow control can enable the design of simpler, smaller and more aerodynamically efficient structures that help reduce aircraft weight, drag, and fuel consumption.
GE Aviation signs 10-year supply agreement for biomass FT jet fuel for engine testing; baseline of 500,000 gallons per year
November 07, 2013
|Schematic of the DG Energy facility that will produce the cellulosic synthetic jet fuel. Click to enlarge.|
GE Aviation, which consumes more than 10 million gallons of jet fuel annually at its engine testing centers, has signed an agreement to purchase cellulosic synthetic biofuel from The D’Arcinoff Group (DG), based in Washington, DC, to be used for production and development testing of GE jet engines, starting in 2016.
The 10-year agreement calls for GE’s baseline commitment of 500,000 gallons annually of the low-emissions jet fuel to be used at the company’s main jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio. Options are in place to order up to 10 million gallons annually of the synthetic biofuel, which be be produced via the gasification of biomass to produce syngas, followed by Fischer-Tropsch conversion.
Amyris to enter partnership to supply renewable jet fuel from sugar to GOL Airlines
October 23, 2013
|An overview of the direct sugar to hydrocarbon (DSHC) process for the production of renewable jet fuel. Source: Amyris. Click to enlarge.|
Renewable fuels and chemicals company Amyris, Inc. and GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A., the largest low-cost and low-fare airline in Latin America, signed a memorandum of understanding that could pave the way for GOL commercial flights to use Amyris renewable jet fuel in 2014. The anticipated partnership was announced during the first commercial flight with a renewable jet fuel in Brazil by the airline earlier today.
Under the memorandum of understanding, GOL and Amyris will work together to establish a framework for bringing Amyris renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane (direct sugar to hydrocarbon pathway, DSHC) to GOL’s commercial flights following regulatory approvals and validation by standard-setting bodies, including ASTM International and Brazil’s Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP).
FAA launches new Center of Excellence for alternative jet fuels; $40M in funding over 10 years
September 13, 2013
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternative jet fuels and the environment. Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Core team partners include Boston University; Oregon State University; Purdue University; the University of Dayton; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Washington; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology; Pennsylvania State University; Stanford University; the University of Hawaii; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Tennessee.
ICCT report assesses domestic fuel efficiency performance of US airlines for 2010; Alaska Airlines on top, Allegiant on the bottom
September 10, 2013
|Relative fuel efficiency for the domestic operations of the 15 largest US airlines in 2010 across each carrier’s entire network (higher score means greater efficiency). Zeinali et al. Click to enlarge.|
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, released a report assessing and comparing the fuel efficiency of airlines serving the US domestic market in 2010. The study is the first to quantify that performance gap using publicly available data and accounting for differences in business operations across airlines.
The analysis compares the efficiency of all airlines independent of size, network structure, or type of service using fuel-consumption data reported annually by the airlines to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. It employs a new methodology, developed by a team of researchers (Zou et al.) at FAA’s National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR) at the University of California, Berkeley, to evaluate an airline’s fuel efficiency relative to both the mobility (straight-line passenger miles between origin and destination) and access (airports served and/or flight frequency) it provides.
NRL researchers optimizing two-step process for synthesis of jet-fuel-range hydrocarbons from CO2
September 09, 2013
Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are investigating an optimized two-step process for the synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons in the jet fuel range from CO2 and hydrogen. The process, reported in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, could leverage a recently reported process, also developed by NRL, to recover CO2 from sea water.
CO2 is 140 times more concentrated in seawater than in air on a weight per volume basis (g/mL), the authors note. With scaling and optimization of this CO2 recovery technology already underway, NRL researchers and others are working on new and improved catalysts for the conversion of CO2to useful hydrocarbons.
DOE and Air Force issue RFI on Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid technologies
September 05, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with the US Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI)—DE-FOA-0000981—on research & development aimed at greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cost competitiveness of Mil-Spec jet fuel production using coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuel technologies.
The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the US Air Force, intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2013 that would solicit for the most promising research and development projects on advanced concepts for and/or unit operations within a CTL fuels plant; the areas of interest may be developed based in part on the responses to the RFI. The DOE and US Air Force anticipate the need for projects of no less than $3 million and that would have duration of not more than 3 years.
New FOX method estimates black carbon emissions from civil aviation ~2.7 times higher than standard estimates
August 26, 2013
Using an alternative approach to determine the amount of black carbon (BC) emissions from civil aviation, researchers from the University of Cambridge, MIT, and Forschungszentrum Jülich have estimated that in 2005, total BC emissions from this sector were 16.9 Gg/year, with a fleet average emissions index (EIBC, the mass of BC emitted per kg of fuel burned) of 0.093 g/kg-fuel. These are a factor of ∼2.7 higher than estimates obtained using standard methods (6.3 Gg/year and 0.035 g/kg-fuel).
The new method, Formation OXidation (FOX), is an empirical method, independent of smoke number (SN), that the team developed to obtain EIBC for all engines in the fleet using only data available in the ICAO engine emissions databank (EDB) representing the physical mechanisms (with significant simplification) by which soot is formed and oxidized. A paper describing the method and the results is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
NASA rolls out new strategic vision for aeronautics research
August 15, 2013
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision better to align the work of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to address looming challenges in global air transportation. Bolden shared the strategic vision in a keynote speech at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation 2013 conference in Los Angeles.
The new vision addresses three “mega-drivers” that are expected to alter aviation during the next 20 to 40 years: significant growth in planet-wide demand for air mobility, prompted by Asian market growth and global urbanization; mounting concerns related to climate and energy; and the convergence of technologies ranging from new materials to embedded sensors to ubiquitous networking.
CAAFI R&D team releases critical challenges position paper and white papers for alternative jet fuel industry
August 06, 2013
The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) R&D team released its current position paper on critical R&D challenges facing the alternative jet fuel industry, highlighting near-, mid-, and long-term priorities. The Position Paper is supported by a series of white papers describing the path forward on these key topics.
The position paper is the result a meeting last fall at which more than 80 members of the CAAFI R&D team—comprising a range of stakeholders from the aviation and alternative fuels industries, academia, and government—identified and discussed key immediate and longer-term needs for targeted funding to maximize the efficacy of the incipient alternative jet fuels industry. Critical enablers requiring immediate development are:
Aviat, Aviation Foundation unveil concept CNG-fueled single-engine aircraft
July 31, 2013
|Aviat Husky CNG. Click to enlarge.|
Airplane manufacturer Aviat Aircraft, Inc. and Minneapolis-based Aviation Foundation of America, Inc. unveiled the first dual-fuel, piston-powered aircraft to operate on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and aviation gasoline. The Aviat Husky CNG is on display outside the Innovations Pavilion throughout AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wis. (29 July through 4 August).
The proof-of-concept Aviat Husky CNG, which flew more than 1,000 miles from Aviat’s headquarters in Afton, Wy., to be at AirVenture, can be powered by CNG or 100LL aviation gasoline with the flip of a switch. It is a mostly standard Aviat Husky A1-C that has been fitted with a 3600 psi (248 bar) CNG fuel tank in addition to its standard aviation gasoline tanks. The only modification made to the engine, a Lycoming IO-360-A1 D6, was the installation of new pistons to increase the compression ratio from 8.50:1 to 10:1.
UPS sets 2017 goal of 1 billion alternative fuel miles
July 27, 2013
UPS released its annual Sustainability Report announcing that while the total number of packages shipped in 2012 increased, the company reduced its total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Environmental achievements included ground and air fuel savings, increased investments in alternative fuel vehicles, and retooled routes that shaved 12.1 million miles from ground deliveries.
UPS also set a new alternative fuel goal of one billion cumulative miles (from a baseline of the year 2000) driven by alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles by 2017, said David Abney, UPS Chief Operating Officer—more than double the previous goal of 400 million miles. Through the end of 2012, UPS has logged 295 million cumulative alternative fuel miles.
Study finds climate impact of long distance trip can vary by factor of 10 depending upon mode, efficiency and occupancy
June 27, 2013
A team from Austria and Norway has found that the climate impact from a long-distance trip (500–1,000 km, or 310–621 miles) can easily vary by a factor of 10 per passenger depending on mode choice, vehicle efficiency, and occupancy. Among the findings of the study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, is that a car’s fuel efficiency and occupancy are central to whether the impact from a trip is as high as from air travel or as low as from train travel.
With only one passenger in a car, corresponding to 20−25% occupancy, the climate impact is at the level of an average air trip, whereas a car with three or more passengers, 60% occupancy or more, it is at the low level of average trains or coaches. A notable exception is for the small diesel car; with two passengers ( i.e., 50% occupancy), the specific climate impact is lower than for an average train or bus trip.
EADS demonstrating electric and hybrid aviation propulsion; innovative distributed propulsion series hybrid
June 17, 2013
|E-Thrust is a “series hybrid” electrical distributed propulsion system concept using one gas power unit providing the electrical power for six fans for lower fuel consumption, fewer emissions and less noise. Click to enlarge.|
The EADS Group—comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter—is demonstrating at the Paris Air Show 2013 a number of initiatives in the field of electric and hybrid propulsion, which it calls its “E-aircraft projects”.
The Group has developed and built a battery-electric general aviation training aircraft in cooperation with Aero Composites Saintonge (ACS), called E-Fan. EADS has also engineered together with Diamond Aircraft and Siemens an updated series hybrid electric motor glider, the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2. EADS is also cooperating with Rolls-Royce on a future distributed propulsion system concept (DEAP) for full-size passenger aircraft.
NREL, Navy and Cobalt Technologies to make jet fuel from switchgrass via butanol intermediate; cellulosic alcohol-to-jet
June 07, 2013
|Overview of the Cobalt/Navy pathway for converting butanol to renewable jet fuel (alcohol-to-jet, ATJ). Source: Dr. Michael Wright, NAVAIR. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is partnering with Cobalt Technologies, US Navy, and Show Me Energy Cooperative to demonstrate that jet fuel can be made economically and in large quantities from a renewable biomass feedstock such as switchgrass using an alcohol-to-jet pathway.
The project, which will convert biomass into sugars for fermentation into butanol with subsequent conversion of that intermediate into JP5 jet fuel, is one of four biorefinery projects funded recently by the DOE. (Earlier post.) The process is expected to result in up to a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the current production of jet fuel.
United purchasing 15M gallons of renewable jet fuel from AltAir Fuel; Honeywell’s UOP Green Jet
June 04, 2013
United Airlines executed a definitive purchase agreement with AltAir Fuels (earlier post) for cost-competitive, sustainable, bio-synthetic paraffinic kerosene at commercial scale. With United’s strategic partnership, AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30-million gallon, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles, Calif.
AltAir will produce low-carbon, renewable jet fuel and other renewable products. United has collaborated with AltAir Fuels since 2009 and has agreed to buy 15 million gallons of lower-carbon, renewable jet fuel over a three-year period, with the option to purchase more. The airline is purchasing the advanced biofuel at a price competitive with traditional, petroleum-based jet fuel, and AltAir expects to begin delivering five million gallons of renewable jet fuel per year to United starting in 2014.
Australian techno-economic analysis of renewable aviation fuels identifies research priorities to lower the high costs
May 22, 2013
A techno-economic analysis of renewable aviation fuels by Australian researchers has found that, based on currently available long-term reputable technological data, biorefineries producing biofuels from microalgae, oil seeds of the Pongamia tree, and sugarcane feedstocks would be competitive with crude oil prices at $1,343, $374, and $301/bbl, respectively.
Sensitivity analyses of the major economic drivers suggest technological and market developments that would bring the corresponding figures down to $385, $255, and $168/bbl, the researchers said in their paper, published in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. The results of the study, which was conducted as part of the Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative, were presented at the Boeing-hosted Aero Environment Summit in Sydney.
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).