The U.S. Air Force needed to better understand the characteristics of bio-based alternative fuels they intended to use as jet fuel in a 50/50 blend with conventional fuels. Bio-based aviation fuel properties—including fuels made by pyrolysis, fermentation, and algae-based oils—were less defined compared to petroleum-based fuels. Because these bio-based oils were still new, the Air Force did not have an efficient way to produce the quantities needed to properly assess combustion efficiency, emission and fuel capability and performance properties.
Battelle and AAFRF modified the SPU at AAFRF to produce 500-gallon plus lots of fuel surrogates with properties similar to next-generation bio-based aviation fuels. We used this surrogate fuel to run tests to assess the properties of the candidate alternative fuels, including physical properties, corrosion resistance, thermal stability and production quality.
We were able to provide bio-based fuels in large enough quantities to allow the Air Force to complete all of their testing quickly and efficiently. Battelle is now making the AAFRF facilities available to developers who need to produce quantities of biofuels and bioproducts for assessment and evaluation.