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Navy tests 100-percent CHCJ advanced biofuel in EA-18G

The US Navy has completed flight testing of a 100% advanced biofuel in the EA-18G “Green Growler” at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The US Navy is a leader in incorporating alternative fuel into operational supplies, in order to increase mission capability and flexibility.

The catalytic hydrothermal conversion-to-jet (CHCJ) process 100% alternative fuel performed as expected during a ground test 30 August at NAWCAD’s Aircraft Test and Evaluation Facility (ATEF), followed by the first test flight 1 September, said Rick Kamin, energy and fuels lead for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Kamin also leads the alternative fuel test and qualification program for the Navy.


CHCJ-5, the 100% drop-in renewable jet fuel tested, is produced by Florida-based Applied Research Associates (ARA) and Chevron Lummus Global. (Earlier post.) ARA’s process uses the same feedstocks as the Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) 50% advanced biofuel blend previously approved by the Navy, but uses a unique conversion process that provides a fully synthetic fuel that does not need to be blended, Kamin said. The fuel contains high-density aromatic, cycloparaffin, and isoparaffin hydrocarbons.

ARA and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) developed the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION (BIC) process based on ARA’s patented, novel Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) process and CLG’s hydroprocessing technology.

Advantages of Biofuels ISOCONVERSION:

  • Feedstock agnostic – compatible with a wide range of waste fats, oils, and greases – no pretreatment other than filtering required

  • Produces 100% drop-in fuels that meet petroleum specifications without blending

  • Very short residence time means small footprint and low capital cost


CHCJ-5 was developed as a variation of the commercial ReadiJet with the intention to meet the Navy’s JP-5 jet fuel spec and qualification protocols.


The fuels team has evaluated five alternative sources for JP-5 and four F-76 sources since SECNAV kicked-off the program in 2009. The team, however, was already researching advanced biofuels in response to interest from the US Air Force and the commercial airline industry in 2008.

From takeoff to landing, you couldn't tell any difference. The information presented to us in the airplane is pretty simplified but, as far as I could tell, the aircraft flew completely the same as [petroleum-based] JP-5 for the whole flight.

—Lt. Cmdr. Bradley Fairfax, project officer and test pilot with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, after the first test flight 1 September

Using the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s (NAWCAD) Real-time Telemetry Processing System (RTPS) at the Atlantic Test Ranges, flight test engineer Mary Picard monitored the ground and test flights and confirmed Fairfax's observations.

That’s the technical premise of the Navy’s alternative fuels test and qualification program: the JP-5 produced from alternative sources must be invisible to the user, said Rick Kamin, energy and fuels lead for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

The fuels program supports SECNAV’s operational energy goal to increase the use of alternative fuels afloat by 2020.

The Navy fuels team is collaborating with commercial activities such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the owner of commercial fuel specifications and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which seeks to enhance energy security and environmental sustainability for aviation through jet fuel produced from alternatives to petroleum, Kamin said.


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