Petroleum-based fuels can be subject to price instability and supply chain disruptions. In order to increase national security, the U.S. Air Force wanted a 100% non-petroleum jet fuel alternative to reduce dependence on petroleum sources. However, meeting the requirements of military aircraft is difficult with 100% bio-based fuels. Existing bio-based fuels are primarily used as part of a 50/50 blend with petroleum-based fuels.
Battelle worked with Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) to refine their Biofuels IsoConversion Process, a new process for converting renewable oils from plants and algae into drop-in ready to use jet fuels. Starting with Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) oil delivered by ARA, Battelle used a Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) catalyst to hydrogenate and hydro-deoxygenate the oil and then separate the jet and diesel fractions using the AAFRF. By passing the CH oil over a proprietary CLG sulfided-metal catalyst at elevated temperatures and pressures, the oil was converted into high-density hydrocarbons that are essentially identical to the hydrocarbons in petroleum-based jet fuels. Battelle was able to help ARA refine their production process and demonstrate that the resulting fuel met all Air Force requirements.
ARA now uses the CH process to produce ReadiJet, a “renewable, aromatic, drop-in” jet fuel. More recently, ARA and Battelle built on this project to deliver additional biofuel samples for evaluation by the U.S. Navy.