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Commercial-Scale Biofuel Production Two-Three Years Away

Certification Process Is Underway

The day of replacing petroleum-based jet fuel with a biofuel blend may be only 24-36 months away, according to Honeywell UOP, and the company says commercial-scale production will drive down the cost of the fuel.

Originally developed under a DARPA contract, "green" jet fuel uses biomass, such as yard and tree trimmings, plants such as camelina and algae, and waste cooking oil as a base for renewable, ultra-clean diesel fuel. A new facility in California is using the UOP hydroprocessing technology to convert hydrocarbons into clean-fuel products.

Green fuels have been successfully demonstrated in both commercial airliners and military aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary. Engineering news reports that a 50-50 blend of biofuel and petroleum-based fuel is currently required, as the biofuel lacks some necessary aromatics found in standard fuel. However, UOP says there is a process to produce those aromatics from green stocks, which would allow it to produce a 100% "green" aviation biofuel.

Honeywell UOP announced earlier this month that its technology was selected for use in Rentech, Inc.’s Rialto Renewable Energy Center for the conversion of biomass to transportation fuels. In August 2009, eight airlines signed a multi-year agreement with Rentech to together purchase up to 1.5 million gallons per year of diesel from the Rialto Project for use in ground service equipment at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Rialto Project is scheduled to start up in late 2012.

The focus is currently on FAA certification of biofuel, which the company says it expects by the end of this year.

FMI: www.uop.com

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