Engine testing at GE Aviation's Peebles facility
Mon 11 Nov 2013 – Aircraft engine manufacturer GE Aviation, which consumes more than 10 million gallons of jet fuel annually at its engine testing centres, has agreed to purchase cellulosic synthetic biofuel from D’Arcinoff Group (DG). The 10-year agreement calls for a baseline commitment of 500,000 gallons annually to be used at GE’s main test facility in Peebles, Ohio, with options in place to order 10 million gallons per year. The fuel will be produced at a facility in Texas that is expected to be operational by 2016. The cost of the fuel will be comparable to traditional jet fuel, says GE. Depending on customer requirements, DG says it will be able to supply customers with three classes of ASTM D-7566 certified fuel – described as reduced, low and clear emissions jet fuel.
Since 2007, GE Aviation has partnered with several government entities and airline worldwide in demonstrating various alternative fuels in its engines through ground or full flight tests, with flight demonstrations involving several GE civil and military engine models.
“Developing alternative sources for jet fuel is fundamentally good for the aviation industry and the environment,” said Mike Epstein, Chief Technologist leading the alternative fuels efforts at GE Aviation. “This collaboration enables GE Aviation to further its experience with alternative biofuels in our engines and foster the development of a fuel source which has great potential.”
Under the agreement, GE will mix the cellulosic synthetic biofuel in the same storage tanks as those used for traditional fuel.
The fuel will be produced at the D’Arcinoff Group Energy Program (DGE) facility in Hudspeth County, Texas. In March, the company and its consortium partners announced the first phase of the $4.6 billion project that will integrate natural gas and biomass to liquid synthetic fuel production with power generation and distribution. The facility is looking to produce 40,000 barrels of alternative fuels per day by the end of 2016. Future DGE ambitions include the world’s first large-scale mobile offshore reserve seawater desalination facility and the construction of the world’s largest electrolysis plant.
DGE says its integrated fuel and energy technology uses a modified Fischer Tropsch process that will decrease CO2 life-cycle emissions and reduce the quantity of feedstock required. This reduction, it explains, is achieved primarily by supplementing the process with oxygen and hydrogen produced by water electrolysis units that are powered by clean wind and solar generated electricity.
The most competitively priced DGE Reduced Emissions jet fuels will have slightly lower (10%) CO2 life-cycle emissions and low sulphur content and other particulates. The DGE Low Emissions fuels will have CO2 life-cycle emissions (32% lower) that meet most US government agency requirements with half the normal level of sulphur and other particulates, whereas DGE Clear Emissions fuels will have CO2 life-cycle emissions that exceed most agency requirements (45% lower) and have virtually no sulphur or particulates. These fuels will be available at prices competitive to oil at $75 per barrel, claims the company.
DG says its jet fuel will reduce aircraft particulates, a major source of ground pollution, by over 90%. The lower density of the fuel will also enable aircraft to have a lower take-off weight, which will conserve fuel and reduce operating costs, or allow for heavier payloads or longer flight distances.
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