Air Force Research Laboratory Alternative Fuels Team wins major prize for aviation biofuels work

September 23, 2011 |

In Ohio, the Air Force Research Laboratory Alternative Fuels Team is the recipient of the 2011 Theodore von Karman Award. The Theodore von Karman Award is the highest research award provided from the Air Force Association in recognition of the most outstanding contribution in the field of science and engineering.

The AFRL Fuels team research assessed the chemical composition, engine performance, and compatibility with existing infrastructure of these alternative jet fuels, and enabled the American Society of Testing and Materials to publish the qualifications for synthetic jet fuel, D7566 “Aviation Turbine Fuels Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons” in 2009.  The military jet fuel specification, MIL-DTL-83133, was also changed to include this synthetic fuel blend in 2008. This initial success and further work performed jointly with CAAFI enabled a second alternative fuel blend to be approved in ASTM D7566 in 2011.

The second alternative fuel is termed “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids”, and is the first biofuel specifically approved for aviation. Feedstocks used in the research include coal and various biological sources such as camelina, salicornia, palm, jatropha, soy, algae, and waste animal fats. The Air Force is the largest consumer of jet fuel in the DoD, with an annual use of 2.4 billion gallons.

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