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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.



Seems to me that using coal instead of oil is a good thing: 20% less GHG and less dependency on foreign oil. However, Biofuel would be better from both stand points; unless, we could run jets on H2 and change over to PropJets for better efficiency.


The US Dept of Defense uses the most fuel of any organization in the country, if not the world. The US Air Force uses the most fuel in the Department of Defense. Change is long overdue when it comes to USAF/DOD fuel - they may not necessarily be able to use less due to national defense requirements, but hopefully someday they'll be able to get bio-jet fuel, economically, from American sources.

Henry Gibson

Those that promote biofuels forget that biofuels destroyed most forests of most industrial countries more than a century ago. The energy from the sun is too dilute and too inefficiently used by plants to be a real solution to the supply of energy to the automobiles of the world or even the US.

The big opportunity for the US right now is to bild synthetic jet fuel factories at all the big coal mines. There will be many job opportunities for both construction and operation, and the energy cost of producing the fuel is less than $10 a barrel; the capital and operation costs will raise the cost to $30; or less than a dollar a gallon. US Coal reserves will last for hundreds of years if all the transportation fuel came from coal.

Nuclear energy can make jet fuel out of CO2 and water in any quantity for as long as there is life on the earth. There is a factory in North Dakota that could quickly be converted from making natural gas to making gasoline for a small percentage of its present capital cost. The oil now not used for making gasoline could be used for making jet fuel instead. The factory produces a lot of CO2 and sells most of it to Canadian oil fields, but the rest could be converted into gasoline combined with with nuclear produced hydrogen.

If you are worried about nuclear energy, just remember that the Sun is nuclear and sends nuclear produced rays to the earth all the time. Do not forget that all life forms, including you, have always been radioactive because live things need potassium to live, and the 4000 nuclear explosions in each human every second seem not to cause noticable, irrepairable harm to most people. The Oxygen we breathe seems to cause more cell death which is also repaired.

All of the fossil energy used by the people on the earth in a year can be delivered from uranium that would fit into a cube six meters on a side. And that is the maximum amount of radioactive atoms that will be produced. Almost all of the radioactive atoms will expire within five hundred years, and the atoms that don't can be put back into reactors if they have fuel value. Before the use of nuclear energy is further restricted for saftey reasons, the use of tobacco should be eliminated.

Nuclear energy will add more hours to the lives of humans than it will take. And if you value human life, you will promote nuclear energy. If you don't then you can promote tobacco as the Al Gore family did to get rich. ..HG..


Nuclear energy is unsustainable in the long term. Solar thermal and electrolysis of water for hydrogen production is the only option for long term energy sustainability.

The USAF has arrived where the German Luftwaffe was in WWII for its fuel supply. Welcome Herr Fischer and Herr Tropsch.


"If you don't then you can promote tobacco as the Al Gore family did to get rich."

H.G. you were doing so well up to that point.

I could say that if you do not value life you supported the invasion of Iraq that killed and maimed 1000s...but I would not do that :)

Richard Burton

Henry et al;unspoken about our use of nuclear energy is the concern that other nations too will choose this path. Nuclear fuel can be diverted into dirty bombs or concentrated into nuclear weapons. Plus the more nuclear plants in our country, the more chance for catastrophic accidents or sabotage-I recall predictions that a dirty bomb in a cargo container in an Los Angeles port would cause miles of the city to be uninhabitable.Ditto if a power plant had a catastophic leak(many of the current ones already have "minor" leaks.

Dave Jackson

The environmental implications of using coal are bordering on horrific, considering how much the military will be using. Nuclear isn't the magical solution some imagine, as uranium is also a finite resource and has already doubled in cost in the last decade. Here's a good article concerning the impending shortages of jet fuel, if I may post it:

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