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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, April 2011
WEB Exclusive story

Drop-In Anytime

As doubts grow about biofuel support in the U.S.,
a bi-national project takes off in Mexico.


UOP’s Green Jet Fuel was blended with traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel to power one of this aircraft's CFM56-5B4/3 engines manufactured by CFM International.
Photos courtesy of UOP/Honeywell

ichael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), testified on April 13 to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at their "Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels: From Ethanol to Advanced Biofuels" session. "I urge you to reject the naysayers on advanced biofuels," he said "They simply are not telling you the truth. These fuels are real, some are here today, and more are on the way."

"We now have several new plants operating both in the United States and around the world which are producing advanced drop-in biofuels," he said. "These plants are making renewable fuels for the first time, and can be used without changes to the transportation fleet or requiring any infrastructure changes to deliver them… These developments would simply not be occurring if it were not for the vision of this Committee and the Congress from 2005 to date to enact a framework to expedite the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels."

However, he said that the EPA is "showing a tendency to be very prescriptive and narrow in allowing some of the determinations of new qualified pathways as well as qualifying some significant potential feedstocks," and he said advanced and cellulosic tax policy "has been too inconsistent and is not tailored currently to provide parity or the right form of tax options to enable some companies to take advantage of the current law. In addition, other sectors of the renewable energy sector were afforded provisions such as a refundable investment tax credit which were not afforded the biofuels industry."

Twelve days prior to McAdams' testimony, UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that Honeywell Green Jet Fuel™, produced using UOP process technology, successfully powered an Interjet Airbus A320-214 from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. Process technology from Honeywell's UOP was used to convert Mexican-sourced jatropha, an inedible plant that can be grown in many climates and does not compete with the food chain, to Honeywell Green Jet Fuel. 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.

The demonstration flight, which took place April 1, is the culmination of work between 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.

"ASA's leadership and commitment to identifying local and sustainable sources of aviation biofuel for Mexico have been instrumental in making this flight a reality," said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for Honeywell's UOP. "ASA, Interjet, Airbus, CFM and UOP share a vision that Green Jet Fuel can help address our transportation needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping the Mexican rural economy."

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 requires no changes to the aircraft technology and meets all of the critical specifications for flight, including a freeze point at -47 degrees Celsius and a flash point at 38 degrees Celsius.

This UOP facility near Houston, Texas, produced the fuel for the Interjet flight from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. “UOP has produced almost 700,000 gallons of Green Jet Fuel in this tolling facility to support the commercial and military testing efforts,” says UOP spokesperson Susan Gross. “For the Interjet flight, the jatropha oil was shipping in from Mexico and then converted to Green Jet Fuel at this facility.”

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