NRC releases biojet test flight data

By Erin Voegele | January 07, 2013

In Oct. 2012, the National Research Council of Canada fueled its Falcon 20 jet with 100 percent drop-in biobased jet fuel. As part of the test flight, a second aircraft tailed the jet to collect emissions data. The NRC has now released the results of that data. According to the NRC, the biojet used in the October evaluation was shown to be cleaner than and just as efficient as conventional aviation fuel.

Information released by the NRC specifies that data collected in-flight and analyzed by a team of experts revealed the biojet resulted in a 50 percent reduction an aerosol emissions. In addition, tests performed on a static engine demonstrated a 25 percent reduction in particle emissions and up to a 49 percent reduction in black carbon emissions. Furthermore, engine performance was shown to be comparable, while a 1.5 percent improvement in fuel consumption was realized during steady state operations.  

“We are pleased with these positive results. The flight went smoothly and the data collected enables us to better understand the impact of biofuel on the environment,” said John McDougall, president of the NRC. “We will continue to work with our partners Applied Research Associates, Chevron Lummus Global and Agrisoma Bioscience Inc. to bring this effective energy solution to market. The final product will be a sustainable option for reducing aviation emissions.”

Biofuel used in the test flight was manufactured using a brassica carinata produced by Agrisoma, trademarked as Agrisoma Resonance. The oil seed feedstock is commonly known as Ethiopian mustard. According to information released by the company, Resonance is a dedicated industrial oilseed that was launched at commercial scale in 2012 across a broad region of western Canada.

The feedstock was converted into biobased jet fuel by ARA’s Isoconversion Process. According to ARA, the process is made up of its catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH) process and CLG’s Isoconversion catalysts. The CH process mimics nature’s method of converting biomass into petroleum crude, while the Isoconversion catalysts upgrade the biooil intermediate into on-specification, finished fuels.

In late December, Popular Science named the test flight one of “The Big Science Stories of 2012.”