Going Green

Developments in biofuels for jet engines.

DEC is also working with NC State University (NCSU) on developing and testing patent-pending technology for converting oils derived from lipidic compounds (such as agriculture crops, animal fat, algae, waste greases, etc.) to high-value fuels. The technology has been named Centia (a derivation of “green power” in Latin). It will integrate a sequence of three thermal-pressurized-catalytic processes to produce Jet A-1(JP-8 aviation fuel, second generation biodiesel, and other hydrocarbon biofuels like bio-gasoline.

DEC says one key benefit of its process is its ability to use a wide variety of feedstocks. For example, animal fats such as beef tallow, hog lard, and chicken grease are currently available in the United States in excess of 1.5 billion gallons per year. These sources could be used without having direct impact on the food chain (unlike soybean and corn).

DEC says its Centia technology provides the flexibility to produce various biofuels, but the company is targeting the aviation industry initially because of its economic sensitivity to crude oil prices and the lack of bio-based fuel alternatives.

Biofuels hold the promises of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse emissions. However, the aviation industry is approaching the technology with caution. Former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey put it best when she told attendees at June’s International Air Transport Association conference that the issue of biofuels in the aviation industry is like “an alligator in a murky pool.” If the industry wants to swim in the pool, it needs to be cautious, or the alligator “could come up and bite us.”

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