Penn State research on aviation biofuels focuses on regional supply chains

June 27, 2017 |

In Pennsylvania, researchers at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are evaluating regional supply chains that could be used for alternative jet fuel production, including feedstock production, transportation and fuel conversion. Researchers are examining fuel-production pathways, feedstock and infrastructure requirements, and commercial fuel demand to create scenarios for future production.

“As oil prices plummet, it becomes more and more difficult to introduce any kind of biofuel into the marketplace,” said Paul Smith, professor of bioproducts. “But modest volumes of biojet currently are scaling with many long-term fuel-purchasing contracts to provide biojet fuel to the airline industry.”

Smith’s lab, in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, is part of the group that In addition, the scientists are identifying potential intermediate materials and co-products for each pathway to understand potential ways to aid in making biorefineries more economical. Researchers are approaching sustainable jet fuel production holistically, considering technological, environmental, economic and social elements.

Penn State is part of a cooperative aviation research consortium known as the Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transport Canada. Led by Washington State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the group is a coalition of 16 leading U.S. research universities and more than 60 private-sector stakeholders committed to reducing the environmental impact of aviation.

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