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Two companies leading in Jet Fuel ! 7

Of all the petroleum uses flight is the one where energy density, the weight of a fuel per the energy within, is crucial for performance.  At about 8% of the total use of petroleum, aviation fuel is a clear target. 

 Two biofuel companies are headed for taking a share from fossil oil.

So far many tests have been conducted using a wide variety of biofuels in jet engines.  To no surprise they all pass because the ignition and combustion in a jet is external rather than internal such as a diesel or gasoline engine.  These points make aviation a biofuel prime market target.

Joule, the Cambridge Mass company that has a pilot plant in Texas, asserts now that it can make diesel, a hydrocarbon very close to aviation jet fuel for as little as $30 a barrel using their mystery patented bacteria. 

 Joule has also patented their cyanobacteria or blue green algae, #7,794,969. The Joule bacteria are reported to secrete the oil.

Secretion skips several steps used to get to sugars for making a fuel product.  Joule claims to be the first company to patent a single-step, continuous process that doesn't require a feedstock for fuel production. Joule CEO Bill Sims says in a company statement, "Our vision since inception has been to overcome the limitations of biomass-based technologies, from feedstock costs and logistics to inefficient, energy-intensive processing."

Joule's Graphical Production Block Diagram. Click image for the largest view.

The patent reveals Joule combines two enzymes with the cyanobacteria to create an organism that can create hydrocarbons or chemicals. 

Joule is now testing its system to make diesel and ethanol in Texas where sunlight and waste CO2 are fed into its bioreactors. The organisms grow, the fuel is harvested, and the organisms are then returned back into the growing solution. 

Joule's bioreactors control heat and light to optimize growth.  Joule plans to begin steady pilot production of diesel at the end of 2010 and open a commercial plant in 2012. Its pilot tests for ethanol production show it can be produced at a rate of 10,000 gallons per acre per year. 

  That's a major gain over corn or sugarcane.
Ocean Nutrition Canada found unique microorganism in the waters off Canada's Atlantic coast that might represent an alternative future of jet fuel production.

  Ocean Nutrition Canada, the world's largest supplier of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, has discovered a kind of super-algae that, according to experts, is dramatically more efficient at producing oil than other types of algae being used for biofuel production.

Backed by Canada's Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), who is saying the newly discovered single-cell algae species is 60 times more productive than other algae, Ocean Nutrition is running a four-year demonstration project for fuel production.

  Ocean Nutrition's scientists happened upon the algae species after a thorough screening of hundreds of different microorganisms. The company has since learned how to grow it and keep a stockpile in cryogenic reserve. 

Ian Lucas, executive vice-president of innovation and strategy at Ocean Nutrition, said to Tyler Hamilton at Canada's The Star, "We were looking and we got lucky. The SDTC program is focused on our ability to take this and turn it into jet fuel. 

We're going to demonstrate the ability to grow the algae on a large scale."
This is a project not to be overlooked . Ocean Nutrition has partnered with the National Research Council, military contractor Lockheed Martin, and UOP LLC, a Honeywell company that supplies technologies to the petroleum industry. UOP's job is to take the algae oil and turn it into a green jet fuel that can directly replace conventional jet fuel.

Aviation is the most weight conscious of the transport businesses. As a practical matter anything on the ground or floating can tolerate weight variations from fossil fuels energy density advantage. 

 But, planes in all likelihood, can not.  If aviation is to back out from fossil fuel derived fuels biomass sources offer the only viable answer for the foreseeable future.
Canada does seem to get the idea that aviation fuel from biomass is a huge niche well worth pursuing. 

 The SDTC is also involved with biosciences firm Targeted Growth Canada and its partners, including Bombardier Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Canada and once again Honeywell's UOP LLC, who will convert camelina oil into jet fuel with the promise of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Camelina is a hardy oilseed crop that grows well on dry, marginal land, so using it in this way isn't considered direct competition with food.
Fri September 17 2010 11:07:20 PM by Natalia joule  |  jet fuel  |  Ocean nutrition canada  |  bacteria 2484 views

Comments - 7

  • Sat September 18 2010 12:39:45 AM

    EADS, the parent company of Airbus, has made a successful test flight with a plane which was completely driven by fuel from algae.

    As airline companies and airplane manufacturers are looking for alternative fuels to aviation fuel because of rising oil prices and climate change, more and more test-flights are being scheduled with alternative fuels.

    It is not the first test that was done with fuel based on algae. In the past multiple test flights were held. What differs this one from all the rest is that this was the first test flight solely on algae-fuel.

    Source: Duurzaamnieuws.nl
    The test flight revealed that algae based fuel is more efficient than conventional fuel. The company wants to have a regular test route in use by the year 2015 to further test with alternative fuels. The future goal of the company is to have at least one out of every ten planes fly on biofuels by the year 2030.

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  • Veronica wrote:
    Sat September 18 2010 11:59:03 PM

    You can read more about Ocean Nutrition canada here

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  • Sun September 19 2010 12:04:08 AM

    The major problem for aviation biofuels revolves around commercialisation and the investment required for large-scale production and the cost of the fuel itself, which is still well above fossil fuels. Airbus and Boeing, self-designated catalysts of the push towards sustainable biofuels, project that the "tipping point" for aviation biofuel use to become commercially viable is around 1% of total fuel use. This target could be achieved as early as 2015, with Airbus projecting that by 2030, 30% of aviation fuel could come from biofuels.

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  • Veronica wrote:
    Sun September 19 2010 12:06:02 AM

    Aviation represents a great opportunity for a transition to renewable fuel sources, if only because the infrastructure requirements are much lower.

    There are about 250,000 gasoline or diesel fueling points in the world, but there are only about 1,700 major aviation fueling points.

    Transitioning aviation to alternative fuels will be much easier than surface transport if renewable fuels become cost effective.

    The prospects look brighter every day, with jet fuel already being produced from algae and plants such as jatropha and camelina, albeit at cost levels that are not yet competitive with petroleum.


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  • Vign2211 wrote:
    Sun September 19 2010 06:44:12 AM

    Use of biofuel in aviation industry can be easily implemnted, I agree to completely to veronica.

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  • Pengpu wrote:
    Wed September 22 2010 01:21:34 AM

    I am very glad to hear that 2000 or 10000 gallons of jet fuel from algae have been produced or be produced in near future based on your paper and other newspaper. I wonder if you are kind enougph to tell me which kind of algae was accepted and the fraction of oil from algae in the jet fuel, 10% or 100% or else. Thank you in advance to your replay.

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  • Natalia wrote:
    Thu September 23 2010 10:11:52 PM

    Some good news for algae jet fuel pursuers

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