Gulfstream private jets flown on 50% biojet fuel made from Camelina grown in US

Gulfstream have flown 5 private jets from Savannah, Georgia to Orlando, Florida, using 50% biofuel – called  Honeywell Green Jet Fuel –  made from camelina supplied by Honeywell’s UOP.  The fuel was a 50/50 blend with conventional kerosene. Honeywell says that camelina is an inedible plant grown in the US northwest where it is rotated with wheat and other cereal crops. Based on life-cycle analysis studies, Honeywell claims its camelina-based fuel “burn 68 % fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel.” quote.  They also claim that “Depending on the feedstock, the fuel can offer between a 65 and 85% reduction in GHG emissions.”  Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the US military to produce renewable military-grade jet fuel for the US military.  Camelina does not appear to be free of problems, however. There may be reduced yield of wheat when grown in rotation with camelina. There is likely to be a need to fertilise the crop, to get an economic yield. It will not grow without enough water, so unless there is enough rain, it could need some irrigation. And so on.

 


 

Gulfstream flies in on advanced biofuels to make a green entrance at major aviation show

2.11.2012 (GreenAir online)

Gulfstream flies in on advanced biofuels to make a green entrance at major aviation show | Gulfstream,UOP

Gulfstream G450 refuelled with Green Jet biofuel prior to transatlantic flight in 2011

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1614
Gulfstream’s full fleet of demonstration business jet aircraft were flown earlier this week from their Savannah, Georgia base to the NBAA convention in Orlando, Florida on blended biofuel supplied by Honeywell’s UOP.

The five aircraft used Honeywell Green Jet Fuel sourced from oils from camelina, an inedible plant grown in the US northwest where it is rotated with wheat. It was blended 50/50 with conventional fuel and produced using Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process. Based on life-cycle analysis studies, Honeywell claims its camelina-based fuel burns 68 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel. Depending on the feedstock, the fuel can offer between a 65 and 85 per cent reduction in GHG emissions. Gulfstream says the use of biofuels is part of a multipronged approach it is taking towards sustainability and improving aircraft efficiencies.

[For some information on potential problems with camelina, see below].

“A little over a year ago, a G450 became the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic on biofuels when Honeywell flew from Morristown, New Jersey to Paris for the Paris Air Show,” commented Gulfstream’s SVP Sales and Marketing, Scott Neal. “Now, we’re the first original equipment manufacturer to have its full fleet fly to a trade show on advanced biofuels.

“We continue to invest in research that will ensure our aircraft are fuel-efficient and quiet to lessen their environmental impact.”

Gulfstream’s sustainability efforts also extend to green buildings and manufacturing practices, including ensuring all new company buildings are LEED-certified. It has a dedicated sustainability group committed to reducing industrial emissions, conserving energy and recycling consumables. Single-stream recycling takes place at all of its facilities, with employees having diverted 1.2 million pounds (544 tonnes) of recyclables, reports the company.

Honeywell’s UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce renewable military-grade jet fuel for the US military. The company says its process is fully compatible with existing hydroprocessing technology commonly used in today’s refineries to produce transportation fuels.

In other related news, UOP’s Sales Account Manager, Jim Woodger, has left to join biofuel technology company Solazyme as its Associate Director, Upstream Business Development. Earlier this week, Solazyme was ranked first in the Biofuels Digest annual “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” ratings.

Other companies in the top rankings that are working on alternative jet fuel development include LanzaTech (3rd), Gevo, Sapphire Energy, Honeywell’s UOP, Amyris and Virent.

Links:
Gulfstream
Honeywell’s UOP Green Jet Fuel

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1614

Related GreenAir Online articles:

Honeywell enters Canadian flight programme to test a new biofeedstock and higher blends of its green jet fuel
Honeywell enters Canadian flight programme to test a new biofeedstock and higher blends of its green jet fuel
Abu Dhabi to host major research institution and demonstration project for sustainable aviation biofuels
Progress on alternative jet fuels “stunning”, says aviation industry, but commercialization is now the major challenge
Brazilian airline TAM to conduct nationally-sourced jatropha jet biofuel demonstration flight
Progress on alternative jet fuels “stunning”, says aviation industry, but commercialization is now the major challenge
Boeing announces major initiatives to develop, commercialize and fly sustainable jet biofuels in China
Brazilian airline TAM to conduct nationally-sourced jatropha jet biofuel demonstration flight
Abu Dhabi to host major research institution and demonstration project for sustainable aviation biofuels
Algae jet fuel supplier Solazyme ranked the ‘hottest’ in annual poll of the world’s top bioenergy companies

 

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The oxymoron of fuel efficient business jets

This really is a contradiction in terms. A company that deals in private jets, which are about the least fuel efficient mode of transport possible.

If the company wants to really reduce its carbon emissions, it should consider areas other than private jets, which often have only 1 – 3 passengers in the entire plane. Their emissions per passenger are often around three to eight times as much as those of a first class passenger on an ordinary commercial flight, and those may be twice as high as those of an economy class passenger.  See http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=456

Gulfstream say, in their press release at  http://www.gulfstream.com/news/releases/2012/gulfstream-aerospace-demonstrates-commitment-to-sustainability.htm   that

“The effort signifies Gulfstream’s commitment to achieving the business aviation industry’s goals on emissions reductions, including carbon neutral growth by 2020 and a reduction in total carbon emissions of 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. Alternative fuels could account for 40 percent of these reductions, while the remaining improvements will come from technology and operations.

““Using biofuels is part of the multipronged approach Gulfstream has taken toward sustainability,” Neal said. “In addition to reducing our carbon footprint, we’re focused on improving aircraft efficiencies. For example, the Gulfstream G650 flies farther and faster than any other business jet in the world, burns less fuel for the same mission and, as a result, has a reduced carbon footprint and produces fewer emissions, such as nitrous oxide. ”

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Potential problems with Camelina

There is a long and quite comprehensive article from the US Association for Energy Economics at

http://dialogue.usaee.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=132&Itemid=364

Just a couple of paragraphs and extracts are copied below:

The overall water usage of camelina is minimal due to the enhanced drought resistance of the crop. Through personal communications with researchers at Montana State University, it can be derived that two inches of rainfall is necessary for proper plant establishment and a yield of 250 pounds per acre.  Each additional inch of rainfall correlates to 125 pounds of additional yield. Using the past 10 years of rainfall data from five weather stations in eastern Colorado, it can be concluded that there is an 87% likelihood of sufficient moisture to cultivate at least 500 pounds of camelina, and a 75% likelihood of enough moisture for at least 625 pounds at harvest.

Fertilizer inputs are also rather minimal. The literature is not consistent with the recommended amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed, ranging from as little as no use, to as much as 80 pounds per acre. The literature average, however, is 35 pounds per acre. In order to find an estimate of the actual cost of fertilizer in 2011, we created a basic forecast, regressing nitrogen fertilizer prices against the price of crude oil and the price of natural gas. There is significant correlation between the price of crude oil and the price of fertilizer. Natural gas was used since it is the main input in ammonia, which in turn is the main input in nitrogen fertilizer. The final estimates indicate that about $10.55 would be spent per acre on nitrogen fertilizer. Similar approaches were used for sulfur, which has a literature average of 5 pounds per acre, phosphate, whose average is 12 pounds per acre, and potassium, at 3.75 pounds per acre. Their costs per acre, when multiplied by the forecasted 2011 fertilizer prices are $1.73, $6.56, and $2.01, respectively.

There are several flaws with Camelina Sativa at this time. The oil has too high a percentage of linolenic acid (18:3) and total polyunsaturated fatty acids (Pinzi et al., 2009). These high percentages are not ideal for engine performance and shelf life, respectively, of straight vegetable oils. However, the genome has only recently been explored for use a biodiesel, and many studies are optimistic that it can be perfected in the near future.

Another issue is the unpredictability of yields at harvest; peer reviewed studies are estimating about 800 pounds per acre on average, with a standard deviation of nearly 400 pounds per acre.

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Early simulations have yielded positive results for camelina, with several caveats. The major wildcard at this time is the impact potential impact to wheat crops. While it is most likely that no reduction will be present in the wheat harvest directly following camelina, sources have ranged greatly in this estimate. Shonnard et al. (2010) suggests that there is no loss in yield of the subsequent wheat crop, due to three factors.

These include increasing soil moisture due to the short rooted nature of the camelina crop, breaking a crop cycle aids in the prevention of pests and disease, and changing the nutrient profile through complex biochemical mechanisms.

This has been disputed, however. It must be acknowledged that personal communications with representatives from the Agricultural Research Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, have suggested that wheat farmers may expect as much as a 33% reduction in wheat yields following a camelina growth rotation. There have been no citations of this figure in any of the literature, however.

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