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Navy to Test 50:50 Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel Blend in F/A-18 Super Hornet; 590,000-Gallon HRJ Solicitation for Navy and Air Force

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) fuels team will flight test a 50:50 blend of hydrotreated renewable JP-5 (HRJ5) and petroleum-based JP-5 in an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Patuxent River, Md., by next spring or summer. Preceding the flight tests will be laboratory and rig testing at Pax River, followed by static engine tests with the Super Hornet’s F414 engine on a test stand at the Lynn, Mass., facility of manufacturer General Electric.

The static tests will probably take place in the December-January time frame, according to Rick Kamin, Navy fuels lead. The NAVAIR fuels team is also getting ready to kick off a similar effort to test and certify biofuels for use on ships.

Our major goal is a drop-in replacement. The field won’t know the difference.

—Rick Kamin

In June, the Defense Energy Support Center issued a solicitation (SP0600-09-R-0704) for the procurement of 190,000 gallons US of HRJ5 for the Navy, and 400,000 gallons US of Hydrotreated Renewable JP-8 (HRJ8) for the US Air Force. Recovery and Reinvestment Act money will be used to procure the Navy’s HRJ5; Fiscal Year 2009 monies will be used to procure HRJ8 for the Air Force.

Of the procurement for the Navy, NAVAIR has currently asked for 40,000 gallons. Initial laboratory analyses and rig testing will consume 1,500 gallons; the static engine tests, 16,500 gallons; and the flight tests, 22,000 gallons. The contract signing is expected to take place this month.

The Hydrotreated Renewable JP-5 fuel supplied under the DESC procurement is to consist predominately of n-paraffins, iso-paraffins and cycloparaffins and shall be produced solely from triglycerides and free fatty acids derived from either plant or algal oils. The HRJ8 is to be produced solely from triglycerides and free fatty acids derived from either plant or algal oils or animal fat or mixtures thereof.

For the upcoming static and flight tests, the hydrotreated renewable jet fuel (HRJ) will be mixed in a 50-50 blend with conventional petroleum-derived jet fuel to provide the necessary specification properties. The hydrotreated renewable jet fuels have no aromatics.

Aromatics are critical for seal swelling. The easiest way to get these properties back in is with a blend with petroleum-based fuels.

—Rick Kamin

(To move to a complete renewable jet fuel, UOP is developing a process of catalytic stabilization and deoxygenation of pyrolysis oil that delivers the requisite jet range cyclic hydrocarbons, and that would result in bio-content greater than 50%. Earlier post.) The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota also has been awarded a subcontract by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to help produce 100% renewable jet fuel from algae. Earlier post.)

The fuels team will initially apply three categories of standard tests to the fuels received in response to the RFP: analytical chemistry to determine chemical composition and structure; “wet chemistry”—determining the fuels’ response in specific chemical reactions; and rig test properties such as water separability, to determine how the fuels will react in aircraft and in conditions typical of Navy operating conditions, which include long-term storage.

Storage stability is a unique military and Navy requirement not required in the commercial world. We’re trying to certify by families, to come up with a spec for an approved class of feedstocks, such as oil shale, petroleum, hydrotreated renewable or coal.

—Rick Kamin

The specifications of each family will be determined initially through the full battery of chemical analysis, physical properties, static engine tests and flight tests.

The Navy plans to have test and certification completed on the most promising alternative fuel candidates no later than 2013, Kamin said. As each candidate is approved for use, it will be added to the Navy’s JP-5 (aircraft) and F-76 (ship propulsion fuel) specifications. Once in the specification, the Defense Energy Support Center can buy the fuel to meet Navy requirements from the lowest-cost provider. Actual usage in the fleet will depend on industry production capability.



Henry Gibson

Butanol, which can be stored for ever, could be used in a blend as well. ..HG..

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