A life cycle analysis of the carbon footprint of camelina-based biojet fuel concludes that the renewable fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 75 percent compared to traditional petroleum-based jet fuel, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy. The study also found that "green" diesel made through the same process reduces CO2 emissions by 80 percent.
"This peer-reviewed analysis proves what we've known for a long time -- that camelina is an ideal feedstock for renewable jet fuel," said Scott Johnson, president of Sustainable Oils. "The peer-review process demonstrates without a doubt the significant CO2 reductions that camelina based jet fuel offers. Our airline and military partners can be even more confident about the benefits of using camelina-based fuels."
The research, in collaboration with UOP, a Honeywell company, was conducted at Michigan Tech University, a leading research university. The study was based on camelina grown in Montana and processed into biojet fuel using UOP hydroprocessing technology.
Camelina-based biojet fuel is well positioned to be the renewable fuel of choice for airlines and the U.S. military once the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approves a specification for renewable jet fuel, known as Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ). The standard is expected to be fully approved in 2011.
In addition to camelina's low carbon footprint, a range of other factors make it an attractive choice as a feedstock for renewable, domestically-produced advanced biofuels. Camelina grows in rotation with wheat and/or on marginal land, so it does not compete for agricultural land. Camelina "meal" has been approved for use as livestock and poultry feed, so growing camelina actually contributes to overall food supply.
Camelina-based jet fuel has been among the most, if not the most, heavily tested of any renewable jet fuel, with successful tests by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and Japan Airlines. These groups have conducted multiple tests of the fuel on different aircraft types, engines, and at different speeds. Camelina-based fuels have passed every test.
In November 2010, Sustainable Oils' camelina-based biofuel met another key performance milestone with the Navy's successful test of the camelina in a MH-60S helicopter. The test represented another step toward the certification of camelina-based fuels for use in all Navy and Marine aircraft.
Lastly, camelina does not require additional research and development or pilot scale programs. It can be planted and harvested with existing equipment, and refined into HRJ with technology that is widely available today.
In 2009, the U.S. Navy and the Air Force contracted with Sustainable Oils for more than 140,000 gallons of camelina biojet fuel. Just recently, both groups exercised contract options for additional camelina biojet fuel, bringing the total to nearly 500,000 gallons to be delivered in 2010 and early 2011.