The U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) Defense-Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded $5 million in funding to the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota to develop a bio-jet fuel for the U.S. military. The bio-jet fuel will need to be an identical replacement for JP-8 petroleum jet fuel which has been standardised on by the U.S. military to reduce the massive logistical burden of managing a variety of different fuel types across its divisions.
The military specification JP-8, which is derived from aviation fuel, was chosen as the basis of the U.S. armed forces standard military fuel because its easier to get a tank to run av-gas than it is to get a fighter bomber to run on unleaded petrol. JP-8 is now the majority of all fuel used in the U.S. military and runs Boeing B-52 bombers, Abrams A1 Battle Tanks, Apache Helicopters, and others. The fuel being developed by the EERC can operate in extremely cold temperatures, at or below -50 degrees F / -45 degrees C.
Energy security is driving the project with the aim to convert fuels from indigenous resources instead of being reliant on imported oil. The project will last for 18-months and will produce enough of the 100 percent domestic renewable fuel to allow DARPA to demonstrate the fuel's usability in real-world combat scenarios.