Civilian jet powered by unblended biofuel lands in Canada

By Applied Research Associates | October 31, 2012

Oct. 29 will go down in history as the first time a civilian jet was powered by 100 percent unblended, renewable biofuel. Applied Research Associates and Chevron Lummus Global partnered with the National Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. to test and analyze their ReadiJet drop-in jet fuel. The biofuel, ReadiJet, was produced by ARA, under contract to AFRL, from Agrisoma’s Resonance carinata feedstock crop using CLG’s and ARA’s breakthrough Biofuel Isoconversion process.

Prior to the test flight, NRC completed ground testing of the fuel with their GE 700 2D2 Turbofan engine in their test cell, and performed a ground test in the Falcon 20. The renewable jet fuel was tested against ASTM and military specifications. During the flight, the biofuel flowed into the engine of the Falcon 20—one of NRC’s specifically equipped and best suited jet for this challenge—as it flew over the sky of Canada’s capital. A second aircraft, the T-33, tailed the Falcon in flight and collected valuable information on the emissions generated by the biofuel. Research experts at the National Research Council will analyze this information to better understand the environmental impact of biofuel. Preliminary results will be released in the following weeks. This historic hour-long flight in symbolizes a significant step not only for the aerospace industry, but also towards advancing sustainable sources of renewable energy.

The enthusiasm on the tarmac during and after the flight was palatable. “Today, I flew the world's first 100 percent biofuel flight,” said Tim Leslie, one of NRC's pilots. “We have been working hard with our partners for many months, and it is most rewarding to see it all come together. It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an ecofriendly future.”

Canadian Ministers congratulated the National Research Council for world's first 100 percent biofuel-powered flight. The Honorable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry, and the Honorable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) issued the following statement: “I congratulate the aerospace team at the National Research Council of Canada for achieving today's milestone in aviation history. This is a perfect example of how government and industry work together to bridge the gap between Canadian innovation and commercialization. The NRC, through our government's investments, helps support the Canadian economy by enabling its partners to develop and bring effective sustainable energy solutions to market.”

The Isoconversion process is a combination of ARA’s CH technology and Chevron Lummus Global’s Isotreating technology to make the finished ReadiJet fuel.  The integrated ARA/CLG Biofuel Isoconversion process and Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock provide a pathway for fulfilling the commercial and military markets’ requirements for alternative fuels at parity with petroleum while spurring opportunities for farmers.

“Today, with the support of NRC Canada, the US Air Force Research Lab, Air Transport Canada, and GARDN, our team comprised of ARA, Chevron Lummus Global, and Agrisoma Biosciences, unveiled the future of alternative fuels: Agrisoma's Resonance, a true industrial oil feedstock grown by farmers with conventional growing techniques and ARA/CLG's Biofuels Isoconversion process,” stated Chuck Red, ARA’s alternative fuels program lead. “Our passionate scientists have showed the world that their creativity and innovation will lead the way to cost competitive, 100 percent alternative fuels in the near future.”

“This flight represents the culmination of a significant and strategic effort within Canada to demonstrate leadership in green aviation—from the commercialization of a sustainable and scalable feedstock crop to ‘at altitude’ flight demonstration with emissions monitoring in real time during the flight,” said Steven Fabijanski, president and CEO of Agrisoma, who was present on the tarmac. “Agrisoma is proud to be a part of this landmark work. To date all powered flight has relied on fossil fuel—this flight changes everything—we have witnessed petroleum free aviation.”



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