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July 11, 2006

Bio Jet Fuel Peak Oil

DARPA sees which way the wind's blowing. They've put out a request for R&D proposals to try to find a way to produce military jet fuel from non-petroleum sources. Excerpt from the RFP:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencys (DARPA) Advanced Technology Office (ATO) is soliciting proposals...for BioFuels.

The Defense Department has been directed to explore a wide range of energy alternatives and fuel efficiency efforts in a bid to reduce the military's reliance on oil to power its aircraft, ground vehicles and non-nuclear ships. DARPA is interested in proposals for research and development efforts to develop a process that efficiently produces a surrogate for petroleum based military jet fuel (JP-8) from oil-rich crops produced by either agriculture or aquaculture (including but not limited to plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria) and which ultimately can be an affordable alternative to petroleum-derived JP-8. Current commercial processes for producing biodiesel yield a fuel that is unsuitable for military applications, which require higher energy density and a wide operating temperature range. [...]

The goal of the BioFuels program is to enable an affordable alternative to petroleum-derived JP-8. The primary technical objective of the BioFuels program is to achieve a 60% (or greater) conversion efficiency, by energy content, of crop oil to JP-8 surrogate and elucidate a path to 90% conversion. Proposers are encouraged to consider process paths that minimize the use of external energy sources, which are adaptable to a range or blend of feedstock crop oils, and which produce process by-products that have ancillary manufacturing or industrial value. Current biodiesel alternative fuels are produced by transesterification of triglycerides extracted from agricultural crop oils. This process, while highly efficient, yields a blend of methyl esters (biodiesel) that is 25% lower in energy density than JP-8 and exhibits unacceptable cold-flow features at the lower extreme of the required JP-8 operating regime (-50F). The focus of this program is to develop alternative or additional process technologies to efficiently produce an acceptable JP-8 surrogate fuel. Potential approaches may include thermal, catalytic, or enzymatic technologies or combinations of these. It is anticipated that the key technology developments needed to obtain the program goal will result from a cross-disciplinary approach spanning the fields of process chemistry and engineering, materials engineering, biotechnology, and propulsion system engineering. The key challenges are to develop and optimize process technologies to obtain a maximum conversion of crop oil to fuel. The resulting product should comply with current aviation fuel specifications and standards. [Emphasis added]

When push comes to shove and oil shortages get underway in earnest, the military will surely be in a position to push its way to the front of the line. Evidently, they anticipate that being first in line may not be good enough.

Handwriting on the wall.

Posted by Jonathan at July 11, 2006 09:39 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Just had to share this one:


Kunstler may die a broken, disillusioned man
(I sure hope so).

Posted by: Timelord at July 13, 2006 09:10 AM