Camelina Bio-Jet Fuel By 2012?

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Fuel produced from the camelina plant could be used as a renewable biojet fuel that would reduce jet-fuel greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, according to researchers -- and ATSM standards for the fuel are expected before 2012. Camelina-based jet fuel has been tested by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Japan Airlines on different types of aircraft and in different engines. The Navy has tested the fuel in an F/A-18 Super Hornet and last month flew an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter on a 50/50 mix of camelina-based and petroleum-based fuels. The U.S. Navy and Air Force have contracted with Sustainable Oils, a camelina biojet fuel provider, for a total of 500,000 gallons to be delivered by early 2011. According to Sustainable Oils, camelina can be planted, harvested and refined with existing equipment and technology that is available today.

The camelina plant can be grown in rotation with wheat crops on marginal land and requires little water or nitrogen to thrive. ASTM, the American Society for Testing and Materials, is developing standards that would create specifications for renewable jet fuel. The fuel's proponents expect those standards to be fully approved by 2012. The military will continue tests of the 50/50 biofuel mix and intends to put it to use in ships and aircraft before 2013.