GE Aviation signs 10-year supply agreement for biomass FT jet fuel for engine testing; baseline of 500,000 gallons per year
|Schematic of the DG Energy facility that will produce the cellulosic synthetic jet fuel. Click to enlarge.|
GE Aviation, which consumes more than 10 million gallons of jet fuel annually at its engine testing centers, has signed an agreement to purchase cellulosic synthetic biofuel from The D’Arcinoff Group (DG), based in Washington, DC, to be used for production and development testing of GE jet engines, starting in 2016.
The 10-year agreement calls for GE’s baseline commitment of 500,000 gallons annually of the low-emissions jet fuel to be used at the company’s main jet engine testing facility in Peebles, Ohio. Options are in place to order up to 10 million gallons annually of the synthetic biofuel, which be be produced via the gasification of biomass to produce syngas, followed by Fischer-Tropsch conversion.
Since 2007, GE Aviation has partnered with several government entities and airlines worldwide in demonstrating various alternative fuels in its engines, either through ground tests or full-fledged aircraft flight demonstrations. The demonstrations have involved several GE engine models from the F414 fighter jet for the Boeing F/A-18 to the GE CF6 commercial engine for such large airliners as the Boeing 767.
The agreement with D’Arcinoff Group will enable GE Aviation to mix the cellulosic synthetic biofuel in the same storage tanks as those used for traditional jet fuel. The cost for the biofuel will be comparable to traditional jet fuel.
The fuel will be produced at the D’Arcinoff Group Energy Program facility, which will integrate synthetic fuel, power generation and distribution. The facility, to be located in Hudspeth County, Texas, is expected to be operational by early 2016.
In March 2013, the D’Arcinoff Group and its consortium partners announced the first phase deployment of the $4.6-billion Hudspeth County project, planned to be a 40,000 barrel-per-day alternative fuel facility.
The DG Energy Program will be implemented over 15 years in multiple phases. The initial phase includes four sub-phases and will focus on production of low-CO2 emissions synthetic jet and diesel fuel, along with naphtha. The electric power for the manufacturing processes will come largely from renewable solar and wind energy. Excess electricity produced may be sold into the commercial power grid.
The basis the DG Energy Program is the Fischer-Tropsch process, in use for over 60 years. DGE’s method modifies the established Fischer-Tropsch system with several mechanisms that will decrease the CO2-life-cycle emissions and reduce the quantity of feed-stock required. These changes eliminate the need for carbon sequestration and reduce the system’s feed-stock handling costs and complexity, according to DG.
The feed-stock reduction is achieved primarily by supplementing the process with oxygen and hydrogen produced by water electrolysis units that are powered by wind- and solar-generated electricity. DGE uses biomass gasification and natural gas reforming.
The DGE produced fuels, though technically identical to the final hydrocarbon products produced by others, will have a life-cycle CO2 emissions calculation that is 65% lower than that of comparable products refined from conventional petroleum, according to the Group.
Developing alternative sources for jet fuel is fundamentally good for the aviation industry and the environment. This collaboration enables GE Aviation to further its experience with alternative biofuels in our engines, and foster the development of a fuel source which has great potential.—Mike Epstein, chief technologist leading the alternative fuels efforts at GE Aviation
The D’Arcinoff Group, Inc. is an investment and alternative technology development company based in the Washington, DC area.