US Air Force Research Lab test results indicate Virent jet fuel can function as 100% Renewable Solution
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has released analytical test results of a plant-derived jet fuel produced by Virent with technical collaborator Shell. (Earlier post.) The AFRL tests corroborate the potential of Virent’s jet fuel and confirm that it warrants further study as a 100% renewable fully synthetic standalone jet fuel or as a 50/50 blend with petroleum-based jet fuel.
Today’s plant-derived aviation fuels are blended with conventional petroleum-derived jet fuel. These AFRL results are exciting because they demonstrate the potential of Virent’s catalytic process to create renewable plant-based jet fuel that can meet or exceed petroleum-based jet fuel specifications at 100% concentration. We expect a high level of interest in the aviation industry for a single, fully renewable, plant-based jet fuel.—Aaron Imrie, commercial fuels manager at Virent
Synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) derived from natural oils, as approved by ASTM for use in aviation, can be blended in ratios up to 50%. To move to a more complete renewable jet fuel, however, the end product requires more than paraffins—it needs aromatics to meet density specs. (Earlier post.)
Virent’s patented technology combines its proprietary aqueous phase reforming (APR) process with established petroleum refining techniques to refine biomass, rather than crude oil, into fuels.
The Virent fuel was tested according to the requirements of the Alternative and Experimental Jet Fuel and Jet Fuel Blend Stock Evaluation protocol of the Fuels & Energy Branch of the AFRL.
Further non-specification evaluations were also undertaken including the determination of polar components, o-ring seal swell tests and the measurement of thermal stability. These evaluations confirm that the fuel is suitable for further study as a fully synthetic fuel.
As larger volumes of Virent jet fuel become available, the AFRL will conduct further analysis, focusing on fit-for-purpose testing as required by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Virent has several initiatives underway supporting the conversion of lignocellulosic-based sugars to jet fuel, the most recent being a $13.4-million U.S. Department of Energy Award to support conversion of corn stover to jet fuel.