Airlines could soon be using biofuels in their commercial jets
Final specification for biofuel could be here this summer

When most people think of alternative fuels, they often look towards the automotive industry. Modern cars and trucks are already available that can be powered by hydrogen, batteries, and other fuel sources such as biofuel derived from corn and other materials. The aviation industry is also looking to “green” biofuels to power commercial flights.

The Air Transport Association (ATA) has announced that the ASTM International Committee on Petroleum Products and Lubricants has given the green light for a new jet fuel specification to push aviation biofuels. ATA President and CEO Nicholas Calio remarks, "The committee endorsement of this specification is significant for all consumers of jet fuel, bringing the airline industry one step closer to widespread production of cleaner, alternative fuels that will help meet our environmental goals while enhancing the security and competitiveness of our energy supply."

The FAA is also pleased that the new biofuel specification has been approved. FAA administrator Randy Babbitt said, "This is a significant step toward a new era of greener and more energy-independent air travel. We anticipate publication of a standard in the next few weeks will open the door for production of commercial aviation biofuels that can be used without changing aircraft systems or airport fueling infrastructure." 

The new biofuel specification will allow for blends of up to a 50 percent mixture of traditional jet fuel and 50 percent of the new biofuel produced by feedstocks like camelina, jatropha, or algae. The ATA said in a statement, "[The ATA has] voted to approve the addition of a new bio-derived jet fuel annex to the alternative jet fuel specification D7566. This effectively concludes the technical review process, allowing for final issuance of the revised specification by August of this year."

NASA has been researching biofuels that are made from a type of rendered animal fat.

The USAF has also been working to certify biofuels for military aircraft as well. The USAF Globemaster III is the first military aircraft certified for biofuel use. The Air Force noted that its 50 percent mixture of JP-8 and 50 percent HRJ biofuel had no discernible effects on engine performance.

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