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View from an airplane

Producing Fuel Blending Components from a Fischer-Tropsch Wax

Challenge

Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) is an approved jet fuel used to reduce dependence on petroleum sources. The U.S. Air Force has pioneered the use of SPK in 50/50 fuel blends with petroleum fuels in order to meet a target of acquiring 50% of domestic aviation fuel requirements via green, domestically sourced alternative fuel blends by 2016. These SPK fuels. The Air Force flew demonstration aircrafts covering their fleet (e.g., F-15, B-52, etc.) with 50/50 fuel blends and successfully showed that Fischer-Tropsch based SPK jet fuel met, on average, current aviation standards. But SPK with varying physical and chemical properties were not available for evaluation.

Solution

Battelle and the University of Dayton Research Institute produced small lots of SPK from commercially available Fischer-Tropsch wax to allow researchers in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to examine how variations in the SPK could affect aircraft performance. In the AAFRF Sample Preparation Unit (SPU), researchers used a commercially available catalyst to catalytically hydroisomerize and hydrocrack Fischer-Tropsch wax and distill the SPK into fuels with different flash points, boiling ranges, and freeze points.  

Outcome

The resulting SPK helped AFRL researchers better understand the impact of varying SPK properties of DOD aircraft performance.