Accelergy Begins Production of Synthetic Jet Fuel from Coal and Biomass; USAF to Evaluate for 100% Synthetic Fuel Use
Accelergy Corporation has begun production of a synthetic fuel from coal and biomass, to be evaluated by the United States Air Force (USAF) as the industry benchmark for 100% synthetic jet fuel. To date, biomass-derived synthetic paraffinic kerosenes (SPK) have required blending with petroleum feedstocks on a 50% basis to be suitable in aviation applications, due to the requirement for aromatics as well as paraffins to meet fuel specs (earlier post).
Utilizing proprietary micro-catalytic liquefaction technologies and direct biomass conversion technologies, Accelergy’s integrated Coal-Biomass to Liquids (CBTL) process, based in part on technologies developed by Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Company and the EERC (earlier post), domestically produces a tunable range of low net-carbon fuels including Jet-A, and military JP-5, JP-8, and JP-9 jet fuels. The CBTL process maintains a high overall thermal efficiency while resulting in 20% lower CO2 emissions than conventional refining methods.
|“Accelergy is the first to provide 100 percent synthetic jet fuel for the USAF with high thermal stability, increased energy density, lower environmental impact and competitive costs.”
|—Tim Vail, CEO of Accelergy
In 2009, Accelergy entered a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the USAF for testing fully synthetic fuels that meet or exceed USAF JP-8 military jet fuel standards. Following a mandate by the USAF to use 50% of its fuel from cleaner and domestic sources by 2016, Accelergy is the first to provide 100% synthetic fuel that can meet the JP-8 standards. The USAF currently uses JP-8 fuel in all of its aircraft and has been looking for a commercially viable 100% synthetic alternative to petroleum-based fuels.
The fuels will be produced at a pilot facility currently under construction at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University Of North Dakota. Production from this facility will commence in the 3rd quarter of this year. Fuel deliveries to the Air Force Research Labs will commence in late 2010. The pilot facility will also provide a tool for evaluating new coal and biomass feedstocks as the technology moves towards commercial deployment.
The EERC’s mission has always been to create solutions for our country’s energy challenges through technological advancements and strong partnerships with private companies like Accelergy. This development marks a milestone in the production of cleaner, 100 percent synthetic fuel through our combined technologies, sets a standard for the industry to follow, and paves the way for its rapid adoption.
—Gerald H. Groenewold, Director of the EERC
Camelina oil. Separately, Accelergy and Great Plains - The Camelina Company have entered an agreement for the use of camelina oil in the production of synthetic jet fuel otherwise indistinguishable from standard petroleum fuel.