NASA purchases Gevo’s renewable alcohol-to-jet fuel as part of performance testing programme
Technicians outfit a NASA HU-25C Guardian with data capture equipment for ACCESS tests (photo: NASA Langley)
Thu 12 Mar 2015 – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has purchased Gevo’s renewable alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel for aviation use at its NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. NASA has been testing alternative aviation fuels at its Armstrong Flight Research Center in California to measure the atmospheric effects of their emissions at altitude and last year signed agreements with NRC of Canada and DLR of Germany as part of its Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) programme (see article). In January, Gevo announced the first supersonic test flight by the US Navy using a 50/50 blend of its fuel, which is currently undergoing scrutiny by fuel and aviation experts in efforts to have it certified for commercial aviation use (see article).
The ATJ fuel is manufactured at its demo biorefinery in Texas using renewable isobutanol produced at its fermentation plant in Minnesota. “Gevo’s patented ATJ fuel is a true drop-in fuel, designed to be fully compliant with aviation fuel specifications and provide equal performance, including fit-for-purpose properties and engine compatibility,” commented the company’s CEO, Dr Patrick Gruber. “It’s exciting to be working with NASA, a true leader in innovation worldwide.” He added the product could be delivered at scale and at a competitive cost.
As well as conducting tests on the atmospheric effects of alternative fuels at altitudes flown by commercial airliners, NASA has also studied their engine performance.
Last year, the Gevo ATJ fuel was evaluated and tested by Lufthansa under a blending study supported by the European Commission and as part of the certification process to have the fuel approved by fuel standards body ASTM International.
Investors in Gevo include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Fund.