Ethanol and biodiesel both have great characteristics for vehicle transport, but what do you use if you want a renewable jet fuel? Biodiesel does not have the extremely low temperature performance for high altitude flight and ethanol is not dense enough and contains only around half the energy content of jet fuel per gallon.

The solution may come from a technology already being used in petroleum refineries - hydroprocessing, combined with microscopic algae. Hydroprocessing allows refineries to catalytically remove impurities or reduce molecular weight and can manipulate algal oils to achieve kerosene-like fuel characteristics. Enhanced Biofuels & Technologies (EBT) is hoping to extend its microalgal oil research via oil refinery partnerships. If they can achieve military jet fuel performance from algal-based biofuels, EBT may be able to produce bio J-8 at geographically distributed refineries reducing the logistics requirements of shuttling fuel around the world.

Moving forward, EBT's top research priorities include:
  • Increase lipid yields through strain selection, screening, and genetic engineering technology,
  • Genetically manipulating microalgae's normal growth and lipid production rates to keep both high
  • Optimising lipids production with the view to producing jet fuel
  • Working with oil refiners to tailor hydroprocessing to use for converting microalgal oil to jet and multi-purpose military fuels
[Source: Earthtoys via Oilgae]

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