Sustainable Oils, a producer of renewable, low carbon and domestically produced camelina-based fuels, provided the hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel used to create the 50-50 HRJ8-JP8 blend used in an all-engine biofuel flight test in a US Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II. (Earlier post.)
The 90-minute flight, which took place 25 March at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, marked the first time that any aircraft has been powered by conventional and biomass-based fuel in all engines.
|B-roll of the test flight.|
In October 2009, Sustainable Oils was awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) to supply camelina-based jet fuel to the Air Force. The contract was for 100,000 gallons of HRJ-8 beginning 2009 through 2010, and includes an option to purchase an additional 100,000 gallons between June 2010 and December 2012. The Air Force plans for a second feasibility demonstration this summer using an F-15 Eagle to test performance parameters. A C-17 Globemaster III will be tested because of the amount of fuel it consumes and an F-22 Raptor test is planned because of the aircraft’s complexity. The latter two tests are scheduled to occur later this year.
The Air Force is committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil. Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption.
—Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
Camelina was selected for initial testing by the military because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80%, and has already been successfully tested in a commercial airline test flight. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, is drought tolerant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides. It is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow on marginal land.
The camelina for the contract and test flight was primarily grown in 2009 and harvested in September 2009 by farmers in Montana. The company also has several field trials in Washington State.
Sustainable Oils has the largest camelina research program in the nation. The company’s camelina breeding program began in 2005 and has steadily expanded to include more than 140 trials across North America from 2005-2009. The company is also evaluating more than 90 breeding populations of camelina to analyze agronomic and oil qualities and to develop new high-yielding varieties. Sustainable Oils leverages biotechnology resources from its Seattle-based agricultural biotech parent company Targeted Growth.
Camelina has also been proven to significantly reduce carbon emissions in aviation fuel. A life cycle analysis (LCA) of jet fuel created from camelina conducted at Michigan Tech University in conjunction with UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company, and Sustainable Oils found that the renewable fuel reduces carbon emissions by 80% compared to petroleum jet fuel.