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B-52 Flight Uses GTL Blend in All Eight Engines

Syntroleum Fischer-Tropsch technology is indifferent to the source of the syngas. Click to enlarge. Source: Syntroleum.

A B-52 Stratofortress successfully completed a test flight on 15 December using a blend of Gas-to-Liquids fuels and conventional JP-8 in all eight engines. This is the first time a B-52 has flown using a synfuel blend as the only fuel on board.

In September, the Air Force successfully flew a B-52 with two engines using the synfuel-blend—using GTL fuel supplied by Syntroleum—while the others used standard fuel. (Earlier post.)

The test flight further demonstrated the Air Force’s commitment to using alternate fuels and is the next step in the testing and certification process before the fuel can go into widespread use, according to Air Force officials.

According to William Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, the Air Force has reinvigorated its energy strategy which is underpinned by supply-side availability and demand-side conservation.

The next test phase for the B-52 will be cold-weather testing to determine how well the synfuel-blend performs in extreme weather conditions.



Further developments under “sustainable bombing” program include biodegradable shrapnel, recyclable bomb cases, low-NOx explosives, bionapalm, organic mustard gas, and “renewable victims” initiative.

John Baldwin

The massive amount of CO2 produced to make natural gas into a liquid fuel means that this fuel should be illegal. It is not an acceptable fuel in the 21st Century.


Exactly,the loving care extended to the residents of Darfur shows theres no need for defense against radical states.


Come on guys..this process can turn biomass into jet fuel. CO2 neutral air travel.


Funny you should mention since:
_Shrapnel is often steel that rusts over time, and often scraps are collected (hazardous->UXO) by locals for recycling.
_Napalm was orginally made with palmitic acids, from oil palms.
_Mustard gas can be made from biomass sourced material and salt.


Slim Pickens would be proud. Yee Ha!!!


Why did they test it on a B52 ?
Could they not have used a smaller plane - even a KC135 ?
Did they want a plane with lots of engines in case one flamed out - or did they want a plane with very old engines which would run on almost anything ?
Curious ...


I believe they use the B-52 because the fuel system allows individual engines to receive completely separate fuel supplies.  They can fill one tank with the test blend and run one engine on it, with all the other engines using the standard fuel.  This eliminates the possibility of bad fuel causing failures of all engines.


alternative fuels for alternative wars?
If it was done from biomass I think people in most countries would appreciate the fact that they were killed using environmentally friendly means of neutralization. Id be more happy about my extermination if I was killed using eco friendly fueled planes. In fact, I would hope that what is left of me is put to use in the Fischer-Tropsch process so my molecules could be used to further the cause? speaking of witch? does anyone think that someday people can donate there remains to a Fischer-Tropsch process as opposed to science? soilent fuel anyone?


I believe this program is more strategic in nature. If we can not get any oil and the petoleum researve is depleated, we always have synthetic kerosene, for all those B2s.


Part of me echoes the Dr. Strangelovian sentiments, while another part of me is happy that at least our Air Force is smart enough to be looking at the end of oil, even if our President isn't (at least in public).

Roger Pham

That's exactly what the Nazi did in WWII when their petroleum supply were cut off: synthetic fuel from coal. Nothing's new there. Hitler still lost the war, for all this ingenuity!

Far more peaceful advancement would be the use of liquid H2 as aviation fuel. Send the H2 up with "ze plane", sequester the CO2 behind to grow algae rapidly, and then gasify the algae oil or biomass to produce H2 for "ze plane" and kept sequestering the CO2...if one really wanna fight global warming.


Hitler personally ordered massive investments in CTL plants long before 1939. It was a stunning decision for developers of CTL process, because synthetic fuel was way more expensive than conventional stock, but Hitler new the reason in advance.

Also, at the end of WW2, when US submarines choked supply of crude oil to Japan, Japanese unveiled massive program of BTL, being wood for methanol, for use in their airplanes.

When crude oil supplies become scarce, alternatives are kicking in no matter the price.


During war, yes. During peacetime it must be economical.

Roger Pham,
Hitler's stubborness, bad planning (esp logistics to the Eastern Front) and turf battles by the military, is what ultimately doomed the Nazis.


It is not just economic. If we peak at 100 million barrels per day worldwide, India and China double then triple their oil consumption, there may come a day when you can not get enough, no matter how many dollars you have.

Harvey D.


Agree with you. What is not economical today may very well be in a few years when fossil fuel price is (hopefully) driven up well over $100/barrel.

A better reason to use cleaner alternative fuels is for our own survival.

People were playing golf yesterday (16 Dec 2006 with a sunny +12C) in the Montreal area. We should be skiing with -12C instead. That is a visible sign of faster than expected climate changes.


Damn, I had always loved driving up to the Laurentians for a week of winter skiing. So much for that pastime...

Paul Dietz

What is not economical today may very well be in a few years when fossil fuel price is (hopefully) driven up well over $100/barrel.

Who says CTL isn't economical today? The figures from that feasibility study for a mine-mouth plant in Wyoming put the breakpoint at a sustained diesel price of around $40/bbl (with +-25% error bars). We're well above that now.


Paul Dietz, Harvey D,
That is about right (>$40/bbl crude or >$120/bbl gasoline/diesel- >$2.85/ga.) reflecting the tight US refinery capacity. My point was, once it becomes economical (due to sustained high prices from demand outstripping supply) alternatives will take hold and grow.

Since the price for oil is govern by the laws of supply and demand (with a side of fear/uncertainty), IF India and China are to triple their demand, we are all going to pay a whopping price for a bbl of oil. The market will then price it until there is less demand. At that point, what the price will be anyone's guess. Three digit, perhaps four digit figures for a bbl/crude may be enough to price out some demand. Consequently, such an astronomical price will drive an alternative energy boom. Recessions or depressions are another possible set of outcomes.
__The danger is the possibility of the collapse (or collapse of supply from) of major oil producing countries and companies. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and several other major oil-exporting nations, they have large energy subsidies for domestic consumers. Such policies feed inefficient energy consumption patterns by their citizens. Most are also developing nations, with growing populations. These circumstances lead to growing internal consumption. From reserve figures, they are all at, near, within 30 years, or past their peak production. The question becomes, do these states eliminate their subsidies, creating social/economical unrest/discomfort, in order to clamp down on wasteful consumption and stabilize export levels. Alternatively, will such measures be untenable to their populous, even for these autocrats. Russia and Norway are exceptions, to various degrees.
_States, specifically the PRC, have price controls for auto fuel. Last year, these controls severely stunted their domestic oil companies' profits. For the Communist Party, economic prosperity, social stability and control are paramount. High-energy prices may stunt the auto industry, a key economic sector, and shrink consumer spending. Exports may also be hurt, as energy prices trim consumer digressionary spending of trade partners. Falling exports and slumping internal consumer spending is a recipe for recession, if not depression for Mainland China. Similar scenarios can occur to other developing nations using exports to drive growth.
_As fuel prices rise, consumer may demand price controls from national governments, forcing Big Oil to eat ever-higher raw material prices. If the price freeze is too tight, it might drive these companies bankrupt. Depending on how willing the bureaucrats are to intervene, they might run out of resources and collapse, sending millions of employees (many high skilled and highly paid) to the unemployment office. This could spell, along with lower spending in other sectors, for a brutal recession.
_East and South China Seas have potential and undeveloped oil/gas deposits, but are fraught with geopolitical rivalries. The same goes for the parts of the Persian Gulf, West African Atlantic, and Arctic E.E.Z.s. As the stakes rise with energy prices, the oil may become reason enough to settle historical grudges/disputes, through warfare.
_With enough capital, minds, enforced effective govt. policy, and a decade, it may be possible to head this off.


I think I understand economic theory well enough. There is elasticity to consider as well as rationing. The dollar has lost value and if we continue to run budget and trade deficits, it will lose more value. Now consider the U.S. importing 2/3 of its oil and having done nothing about 12 mpg SUVs. There is not much of a suppy/demand function if someone has to use fuel to get to work, or lose their job. When there are 100 units of supply and 150 units of demand and no one can reduce their demand further without reducing productivity, then you can have rationing. This says, you have the money, but so do others. They need it for real production, not luxury consumption.

Winds of Change

Lets forget the coal and just use the same processes using scrubbed co2 from coal fired power plants and h2 from a renewable like wind. Same thing much cleaner and with co2 credits even lower cost.

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