The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has released analytical test results of a plant-derived jet fuel produced by Virent with technical collaborator Shell. The test corroborate the potential of Virent’s jet fuel as a stand alone, 100% renewable solution, according to company officials.
The tests also confirm that the Virent fuel warrants further study as a 100% renewable fully synthetic standalone jet fuel or as a 50/50 blend with petroleum based jet fuel, company officials said.
‘‘Today’s plant derived aviation fuels are blended with conventional petroleum-derived jet fuel,” explains Aaron Imrie, commercial fuels manager at Virent. “These AFRL results are exciting because they demonstrate the potential of Virent’s catalytic process to create renewable plant-based jet fuel that can meet or exceed petroleum based jet fuel specifications at 100% concentration. We expect a high level of interest in the aviation industry for a single, fully-renewable, plant-based jet fuel.’’
The fuel was tested according to the requirements of the Alternative and Experimental Jet Fuel and Jet Fuel Blend Stock Evaluation protocol of the Fuels & Energy Branch of the AFRL. Further non-specification evaluations were also undertaken, including the determination of polar components, o-ring seal swell tests and the measurement of thermal stability. These evaluations confirm that the fuel is suitable for further study as a fully synthetic fuel, company officials said.
As larger volumes of Virent jet fuel become available, the AFRL will conduct further analysis, focusing on fit-for-purpose testing as required by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Virent has several initiatives underway supporting the conversion of lignocellulosic-based sugars to jet fuel, the most recent being a $13.4 Million U.S. Department of Energy Award to support conversion of corn stover to jet fuel.