Biofuel Takes Off With Jatropha Demonstration in Mexico

jatrophaThe aviation industry has a significant impact (2%) on the global carbon footprint and it’s looking for ways to mitigate it with alternative fuels.

One of the latest news from this industry is that Honeywell successfully powered an Interjet Airbus A320-214 during a flight between Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas with its Honeywell Green Jet Fuel produced using the company’s UOP process technology. The fuel does not requires any aircraft or engine modifications.

The UOP process converted Mexican-sourced jatropha into fuel. One of the advantages of using this type of plant is that it is non-edible, although some have raised concerns about the plant’s sustainability and water demands.

The demonstration flight took place on Friday, April 1st and represented the culmination of the work carried out by Honeywell's UOP, Interjet, Airbus, CFM International, the Government of the State of Chiapas and Auxiliary Services (ASA), an arm of Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transport. The Green Jet Fuel was blended with traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel to power one of the aircraft's CFM56-5B4/3 engines manufactured by CFM International.

Process

The Green Jet Fuel process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce renewable military jet fuel for the U.S. military.  The process is based on hydroprocessing technology commonly used in today's refineries to produce transportation fuels. In this process, hydrogen is added to remove oxygen from natural oils produced from sustainable feedstocks, including camelina, jatropha and algae.

The UOP process produces a Green Jet Fuel that is blended seamlessly with petroleum-based fuel.  When used within as much as a 50 percent blend with petroleum-derived jet fuel, the blended fuel is a drop-in replacement that meets all of the critical specifications for flight, including a freeze point at -47 degrees Celsius and a flash point at 38 degrees Celsius.

UOP develops technology to convert petroleum feedstocks to fuels and chemicals and launched its Renewable Energy & Chemicals business in late 2006. Previous efforts include the UOP/Eni Ecofining process to produce Honeywell Green Diesel from biological feedstocks, which was commercialized in 2007.  In 2008, UOP formed the joint venture Envergent Technologies LLC with Ensyn Corp. to offer pyrolysis technology for the production of renewable heat, power and transportation fuels.

The company says that previous demonstration flights showed that Honeywell Green Jet Fuel performed as well as traditional fuel in many key performance areas, even surpassing it in some cases.


Image credit: Flickr/Tonrulken

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