The U.S. military is looking to go green across
all branches. The USAF has announced that it has certified its first aircraft
for use of biofuel. The first aircraft is the C-17 Globemaster III and it has been certified
for unlimited usage of hydroprocessed blended bio fuels known as hydrotreated
renewable jet (HRJ) fuels.
The aircraft can operate on volumetric blends of
up to 50 HRJ fuel with 50% JP-8 jet fuel, which jet aircraft traditionally run
on. The aircraft can also operate on 25% HRJ, 25% synthetic paraffinic kerosene
fuel, and 50% JP-8.
"We're very proud of this
certification," said Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air
Force for installations, environment and logistics. "By using a
'pathfinder' approach, we've taken the success of our processes developed in
our previous alternative fuel certifications work and learned how to
efficiently streamline our HRJ certification efforts, while guaranteeing the
fuel blend will work without notable difference to the pilots."
The certification of the aircraft is part of an
ongoing program by the Air Force to certify and test biofuels from
non-petroleum sources. Yonkers added that the biofuels also burn cleaner than
traditional jet fuels with no compounds like sulfur.
It's also important to note that the blended
biofuels require no changes to the aircraft at all to use. Air Force
alternative fuel certification office chief Jeff Braun said, "We expect to
conclude HRJ flight testing within the next 12 months, supporting fleetwide HRJ
certification within the next 22 months." He continued, "When blended
as we've done, this is a potential drop-in solution for jet fuel for our
aircraft, requiring no modification to systems or special handling or
Braun also stated that the blended fuel doesn’t
affect the performance of the aircraft, meaning there are no significant
differences in engine stability, thrust response, or steady-state performance
when burning the biofuel mix compared to straight JP-8.
The Navy has a biofuel
program of its own that has been condemned by some researchers.