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USAF Fighter Flies On Synthetic Fuel

by John M. White |

On March 25th of this year a USAF A-10C "Warthog" aircraft demonstrated the use of HRJ (Hydrotreated Renewable Jet) fuel on a feasibility demonstration flight at Eglin AFB in Florida. The USAF is the largest user of jet fuel in the Department of Defense, consuming some 2.4 billion gallons per year in its operations. The Air Force has an aggressive goal of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels in half by switching to alternative fuels by 2016. The refining process for HRJ fuels emits less emissions than conventional jet fuel, and is aggressively moving forward to have all USAF aircraft certified to use alternative fuels by 2012.
The Air Force took 2 months to prepare for this flight, and the fuel used by the aircraft was refined from the camelina plant, a weed-like plant that consumes few resources and is not a food source. Both refining the plant and burning the fuel emits fewer emissions and is cleaner than conventional fuels. Fueling A-10 With Bio Fuel When test pilot Major Chris Seager climbed out of the aircraft after the demonstration flight he advised the fuel certification officials that the flight "felt great, no problems whatsoever." The A-10 was chosen because it can segregate its fuel system and power one engine from one fuel cell while fueling the opposite engine from a different fuel cell. This made the aircraft an ideal platform for this test. According to Mackinnon Lawrence of Biomass Intel the camelina seed is an oilseed that can be processed into "drop-in" biojet by way of hydroprocessing and is in a class of fuels taken from plant oil. It shows promise as a rotation crop to replace summer fallow on northern wheat farms. Perhaps someday we can wean ourselves from our dependence on countries that are not friendly to us but supply us our oil. Wouldn't that be great? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 In the Alaska bush I'd rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa. — Kurt Wien

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