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US releases Federal alternative jet fuels R&D strategy

The Obama Administration has released the Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development (R&D) Strategy (FAJFS), which maps out a unified federal plan to advance R&D as well as science and technology solutions to support deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) in both civil and military aviation.

The strategy provides a prioritized list of R&D goals and objectives addressing specific scientific, technical, analytical, and logistics challenges that hinder the development, production, and wide-scale economic deployment of AJFs. In releasing the FAJFS, the federal government hopes to accelerate the development of the AJF industry by minimizing technical uncertainty to encourage further private sector interest, facilitate the development and approval of new AJF pathways, and reduce the cost of AJF production in the United States.

In late 2013, an Alternative Jet Fuel Interagency Working Group (AJF-IWG) was established under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Aeronautics Science and Technology. The AJF-IWG, comprising representatives from nine federal agencies, consulted with key stakeholders and developed the strategy.

Going forward it will lead implementation of the strategy, analyze ongoing federal efforts, and collaborate with federal and non-federal stakeholders, including the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), in advancing four thematic areas of the strategy:

  • feedstock development, production, and logistics;
  • fuel conversion and scale-up;
  • fuel testing and evaluation; and
  • integrated challenges such as sustainability.
Overview of R&D goals and objectives alignment to the generalized AJF development path. Click to enlarge.

Feedstock Development, Production, and Logistics. R&D goals and objectives in this category represent what individual regional supply chains could do to optimize their systems to reduce cost, reduce technology uncertainty and risk, increase yield, and optimize AJF precursors.

  • Increase crop yields (tons/acre), water and nutrient use efficiency, as well as pes tand disease resistance, and improve feedstock conversion characteristics.

  • Develop sustainable feedstock production systems that require minimal inputs, have a high tolerance for environmental stress, and minimize the risk of adverse environmental impacts (e.g., invasiveness, erosion).

  • Improve harvesting, collection, storage, densification, pretreatment, and transportation of physical biomass to the conversion facility.

  • Improve collection, storage, densification, pretreatment, and transportation of municipal solid waste to the conversion facility.

Fuel Conversion and Scale-Up. Fuel conversion and scale-up R&D efforts focus on reducing the cost of production for biochemical, thermochemical, and hybrid conversion processes while increasing the conversion efficiency and volume of fuels produced.

  • Enable discovery, development, enhancement, and scale-up of conversion processes with improved yield, efficiency, and energy requirements that lead to cost-competitive AJF.

  • Develop conversion technologies that can produce jet fuel from multiple feedstocks in a distributed manner.

Fuel Testing and Evaluation. Federal R&D efforts in fuel testing and evaluation focus on facilitating the approval of additional AJF pathways by enabling the efficient evaluation of fuel-engine performance and safety through advancement of certification and qualification processes and collection and analysis of data, including those for combustion emissions.

  • Facilitate civil and military approval of additional AJF pathways by enabling efficient evaluation for performance and safety through advancement of certification and qualification processes and collection and analysis of data.

  • Improve scientific understanding of how AJF composition impacts gas turbine combustion emissions and operability.

Integrated Challenges. Several key scientific and technical challenges require R&D efforts that either bisect the above components of the AJF development path (i.e., R&D related to feedstock and fuel) or take place outside that path (e.g., during production, deployment, and use). Research in this area requires an interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and multi-faceted approach.

  • Advance understanding of and improve environmental sustainability of AJF production and use.

  • Develop and validate a comprehensive systems model to support viable AJF deployment.

  • Promote communication as well as scientific and technical R&D best practices for the national enterprise.

AJFs can help enhance energy security; expand domestic energy sources; facilitate a diverse, secure, and reliable fuel supply; contribute to price and supply stability; reduce emissions that affect air quality and global climate; generate economic and rural development; and promote social welfare. Federal R&D plays an important role in facilitating the development of AJFs. This Strategy focuses Federal R&D efforts to address key scientific and technical challenges while reducing duplication of effort, enhancing efficiency, and encouraging a coordinated R&D approach among Federal and non-Federal stakeholders. Continued progress requires focused investments and coordination among Federal departments and agencies, academia, industry, and international partners toward the R&D goals and objectives set out in this Strategy.


CAAFI. CAAFI participated in the survey and review process and provided input to the strategy during the initial stakeholder discussions held in January 2014. CAAFI will host several sessions on the FAJFS at the CAAFI Biennial General Meeting (CBGM) including discussions of execution strategy led by the federal agencies, the integration of ongoing and planned activities across the public-private-partnership spectrum to meet the strategy’s objectives, and the providing of feedback on adjacent objectives and activities that could be undertaken to fulfill the vision of the Strategy.


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