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Royal Netherlands Air Force Tests 50% Renewable Jet Fuel Blend in Apache Helicopter

The Royal Netherlands Air Force concluded a test flight of a Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopter powered by a 50% blend of renewable jet fuel produced by UOP, a Honeywell company. This first helicopter flight using sustainable aviation biofuels to date was conducted at Gilze-Rijen Airbase, the home of the Royal Netherlands' combat helicopter fleet.

Natural oils from algae and used cooking oil were converted into Green Jet Fuel using process technology developed by UOP. The 50:50 blend of renewable jet fuel and traditional jet fuel powered one of the Apache’s engines for a series of test maneuvers. No modifications were made to the engine or airframe for the flight.

Honeywell Green Jet Fuel has been used in four previous commercial biofuel demonstration flights, including a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines demonstration flight in November 2009. The fuel has also been demonstrated in fixed-wing flights with the US Air Force and Navy as part of a joint program for alternative fuels testing and certification under the US Defense Energy Support Center (DESC).

The process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce renewable military jet fuel for the US military. The process produces a synthetic paraffinic kerosene that can be blended seamlessly with petroleum-based fuel. (Earlier post.)

In addition to its Green Jet Fuel process technology, UOP has commercialized the UOP/Eni Ecofining process to produce Honeywell Green Diesel from biological feedstocks. It has also a joint venture with Ensyn Corp. in Envergent Technologies LLC, which offers pyrolysis technology for the production of renewable heat, power and transportation fuels.



Even though this is just one test, it bodes well for the greening of jet fuel.

"The renewable jet process uses a selective cracking step which reduces the natural oil C16-C18 carbon chain lengths to carbon chain lengths in the C10 to C14 range for jet fuel. UOP has shown the process using C18 oils like soy, palm and canola oils; C12 oils like coconut oil; inedible oils like jatropha and camelina and a variety of algal oils, to produce SPK fuel."

It would be interesting to know a bit more about the algal process. While soy palm canola are a renewable source they may not be sustainable. Algae can be grown in abundance in seashore farms. If Honeywell has a feasible process it would hasten the transition to green jet fuels for many applications.

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