Agrisoma Biosciences, U.S. military contribute to biojet project

By Applied Research Associates | September 13, 2012

Applied Research Associates and Chevron Lummus Global are partnering with the National Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., a Canadian firm with a growing presence in the biofuel feedstock market, to evaluate CLG and ARA’s 100 percent drop-in ReadiJet fuel.

ARA and NRC will test the renewable jet fuel against ASTM and military specifications and evaluate the fuel in ground based engine tests, with the initiative culminating in a test flight with the NRC Falcon-20 twin engine jet. This flight will be the first time in the world a jet aircraft is powered by 100 percent, un-blended, renewable jet fuel that meets petroleum jet fuel specifications. The biofuel, ReadiJet, was produced by ARA, under contract to AFRL, from Agrisoma’s Resonance feedstock crop using CLG’s and ARA’s breakthrough Biofuel Isoconversion process.

During the test flight, a second aircraft, the National Research Council’s T33 jet will fly behind the Falcon 20 to measure the emissions of the engine operating on both the ReadiJet biofuel and on conventional petroleum-based aviation fuel. Systems onboard the Falcon 20 will allow NRC’s flight research team to switch back and forth between the two fuel types throughout the flight. These data will be the first of its kind to evaluate biojet fuel emissions of an aircraft engine operating on 100 percent biofuel. NRC’s unique expertise will support Agrisoma Biosciences and CLG/ARA efforts to validate the Resonance-based ReadiJet biofuel as a viable and sustainable option for the aviation industry.

Resonance is a member of the mustard oilseed crop family, and was introduced into commercial production in Canada in 2012. Agrisoma Biosciences, a long-time NRC partner, commercialized the oilseed to provide the industry with a sustainable energy feedstock crop: a non-food, industrial oilseed that is well-suited for production in semi-arid areas, making it ideal for producers who can grow the crops on marginal land. “NRC is helping Agrisoma complete the value chain for Resonance-based alternative jet fuels,” said Steven Fabijanski, President and CEO of Agrisoma.

The Biofuel Isoconversion Process is made up of:

- ARA’s Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) process, which mimics nature’s way of converting biomass to petroleum crude. While nature’s processes take millions of years to produce petroleum crude, it takes minutes for the CH process to turn plant oils into a high quality crude oil intermediate. The technology is proven in mature pilot systems. A U.S. patent was granted to ARA in 2010 on the CH process.

- CLG’s ISOCONVERSION™ Catalysts efficiently upgrade the crude oil intermediate produced by the CH reactor into on-specification, finished fuels. The final products are all fungible and nearly identical to petroleum derived fuels. ReadiJet Fuel is tailored to meet all commercial and military jet fuel specifications.

“The integrated ARA/CLG Biofuel Isoconverstion 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,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s alternative fuels program lead. “We look forward to this partnership with NRC to help us validate the combination of Canadian developed and grown feedstocks and our processing technology as a leading alternative fuel solution.”