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EERC 100% Renewable Biojet Fuel Meets Key JP-8 Standards [corrected]

Comparison of the composition of EERC’s renewable JP-8 with conventional petroleum-derived JP-8. Click to enlarge. Source: EERC

A 100% renewable biojet fuel produced by the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) has met seven key JP-8 specification parameters, including freeze point, density, flash point, and energy content. EERC created the fuel samples from multiple renewable feedstocks and submitted them to the US Air Force Research Labs (AFRL) for testing.

The EERC fuel was produced under a $4.7 million contract with the US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Biofuel Program. (Earlier post.) DARPA opened up its first Biofuels Broad Agency Announcement (BAA06-43) in July 2006. DARPA also awarded contracts to General Electric (GE) and UOP under this BAA.

EERC is using a thermocatalytic cracking and separation process in its production of JP-8 from vegetable oils. UOP is working on the hydrogenation/de-oxygenation of free fatty acids, and GE is gasifying biomass to bio-oil, then hydroprocessing the bio-oil process.

The EERC technology takes advantage of feedstock chemistry to reduce capital and operating expenses. The feedstock-flexible process can use various crop oils and waste greases. The process can be tailored to produce combinations of propane, gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel that are identical to petroleum-derived fuels, enabling direct substitution with existing fuels and providing renewable options across the spectrum of fuel needs.

[In an earlier version of this post, GCC had referenced work by Professor Wayne Seams, of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of North Dakota, inaccurately attributing it to occurring within EERC. The EERC is a nonprofit business within the university and developed its own proprietary technology for the production of 100% renewable jet fuel, which is very different and separate from the one Dr. Seams developed. The reference to Dr. Seams’ work has been removed.--Ed.]

In the earlier report submitted to the DOE, EERC said that it obtained a 50% biojet yield for a single-pass reaction/single-pass separation and around 86% with recycle for a fuel that meets the required cold, pour and flash points analogous to the JP-8 spec. The also found that a higher yield of crackates can be obtained from biodiesel than its feedstock oil, but the quality (defined as percentage of C4–C15 content) is less from biodiesel than its feedstock oil.

EERC Renewable JP-8 vs. Petroleum JP-8
Specification test EERC JP-8 JP-8 Avg. JP-8 Spec.
Aromatics [vol%] 19.8 17.9 ≤25.0
Olefins [vol%] 1.9 0.8 ≤5.0
Specific gravity 0.805 0.803 0.775-0.840
Flash point [°C] 49 49 ≥38
Freeze point [°C] -52 -51.5 ≤-47
Heat of combustion [MJ/kg] 42.9 43.2 ≥42.8

The EERC says that it is actively exploring partnerships with the private sector to move into full-scale production of the fuel. Preliminary negotiations are under way with feedstock suppliers and oil refineries. Talks of building a large-scale Advanced Tactical Fuels Production Complex are ongoing.

Earlier this month, Solazyme Inc. announced that it had produced an algal-derived aviation kerosene that passes eleven of the most challenging specifications required to meet the ASTM D1655 (Jet A) standard for Aviation Turbine Fuel. (Earlier post.)

Jet A is a kerosene grade fuel similar to JP-8, but with a higher freeze point maximum (-40°C).

DARPA Biofuels BAA. The primary technical objective of the first DARPA BioFuels BAA is to achieve a 60% (or greater) conversion efficiency, by energy content, of crop oil to JP-8 surrogate and to demonstrate a path to 90% conversion. Program participants are expected to deliver a minimum of 100 liters of JP-8 surrogate biofuel for initial government laboratory qualification.

The agency is seeking proposals for research and development efforts to develop a process that efficiently produces a surrogate for petroleum-based JP-8 from oil-rich crops produced by either agriculture or aquaculture (including but not limited to plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria) and which ultimately can be an affordable alternative to petroleum-derived JP-8.

In 2007, DARPA issued a second Biofuels BAA (BAA08-07) soliciting research proposals in the area of technologies that enable the affordable production of a surrogate for petroleum based military jet fuel (JP-8) from agricultural or aquacultural crops that are non-competitive with food material.



Henry Gibson

There is not enough land area for even only military fuels in the US. The military now needs to institute a program for coal-to-methanol and then Methanol to jet fuel, and have many large tanks of methanol available for the start up of idled conversion units quickly. ..HG..


As much as I would like to think that chemists can do anything, it seems difficult to meet all the specifications of a petroleum product through synthesis, but they have done it.

100 million acres of corn stalks produces 200 million tons of biomass after half has been returned to the land. At 100 gallons per ton, that makes 20 billion gallons of fuel. This should be enough to get them going.


If they develop salt water algal oil as the primary feedstock - they don't need land mass. The oceans provide plenty of area - and exposure to sunlight. The problem with the Solazmyme method is they use cellulosic feedstocks as the sugar source for algae. A two step process that has yet to demonstrate efficiency.

It is good to see attention paid to aviation biofuels - a key component of breaking the addiction to foreign oil.

john w. clark

If you'll look around the internet for algae farming you'll find that all of the oil needs of this country could be satisfide through algae farming not just jet fuel. the land mass required would be no more than one tenth of the state of New Mexico. Algae can produce 50 gallons of oil per day per acre.that is close to 20,000 gallons a year per acre.

b cole

Algae to Jet Fuel. To learn more you may want to check out this website:

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