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Camelina-Based Aviation Fuel Cleared For Takeoff

Camelina is well suited to be a sustainable biofuel crop, as it naturally contains high oil content; its oils are low in saturated fat; it is drought resistant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.
by Staff Writers
Bozeman MT (SPX) Jan 05, 2009
Sustainable Oils will participate in an historic flight by Japan Airlines (JAL) planned for January 30, 2009. The demonstration flight will make JAL the first Asian carrier to fly on fuel derived from sustainable feedstocks and the first airline to use camelina-based bio-jet fuel.

"We're proud to have been selected to participate in this historic event," said Tom Todaro, CEO of Sustainable Oils. "We are dedicated to growing the market for camelina across the United States and around the world. This flight will help growers see the tremendous potential for camelina as a renewable energy feedstock."

Camelina is well suited to be a sustainable biofuel crop, as it naturally contains high oil content; its oils are low in saturated fat; it is drought resistant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides. Most importantly, it is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow in marginal land. Camelina does not displace other crops or compete as a food source.

It is estimated that the state of Montana alone could support between 2 and 3 million acres of camelina, generating 200 to 300 million gallons of oil each year.

"Camelina is a dedicated energy crop that has the energy properties we need to create a new source of aviation jet fuel," said Billy Glover, managing director, Environmental Strategy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"We're focused on creating sustainable plant-derived jet fuel blends that meet or exceed all of the current jet fuel specification properties, but not at the expense of food crops or water resources. Camelina is a solid match in that regard."

The approximately 1 hour demo flight out of Haneda Airport, Tokyo will be operated by JAL staff with no passengers onboard. It will be the final stage in a 12 month process to conclusively confirm the sustainable biofuel's operational performance capabilities and potential commercial viability.

The JAL biofuel flight is expected to bring the airline industry significantly closer to finding a suitable sustainable biofuel that will help reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) generated by aviation, while also reducing the industry's reliance on traditional petroleum-based fuels.

"It's been my goal to help make Montana a leader in renewable energy," said Governor Brian Schweitzer. "And today, we've reached an important milestone toward that goal. Through camelina, our state has the potential to create jobs, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease carbon emissions. I look forward to seeing that JAL 747 liftoff in January."

The fuel for the JAL demo flight was successfully converted from plant-based crude oil to biojet fuel by Honeywell's UOP, a refining technology developer, using proprietary hydro-processing technology to complete the fuel conversion.

The fuel was then blended with typical jet fuel to create the 50 percent biofuel blend. Subsequent laboratory testing by Boeing, UOP, and several independent laboratories verified the biofuel met the industry criteria for jet fuel performance.

Ground-based jet engine performance testing by Pratt and Whitney of similar fuels further established that the biofuel blend either meets or exceeds the performance criteria in place for commercial aviation jet fuel today.

"This is great news for the biofuel industry and for Montana camelina," said Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus.

"We need to look for alternative energy sources and biofuels are an excellent way to go. It'll help create more good-paying jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I look forward to seeing how this first flight goes."

Camelina sativa (false flax), is a flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family, which includes other oilseeds such as mustard and rapeseed. Native to Northern Europe and Central Asia, the plant also thrives in the plains areas of the United States, including Montana.

Sustainable Oils officially launched its camelina growers program in the state last year, and is aggressively expanding the number of growers and acres planted.

"Camelina is a tiny oilseed with enormous potential for our future," said U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who included an amendment in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide federal crop insurance for camelina.

"This demonstration flight will show us that the sky's the limit for camelina growers in Montana and across the country."

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GreenShift To Build Twelve Corn Oil Extraction Facilities
Adrian MI (SPX) Jan 05, 2009
GreenShift has announced that it has executed agreements to receive a $38 million investment to produce 20 million gallons per year of biodiesel from corn oil extracted from ethanol plants.

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