Researchers develop plant-based jet fuel


The scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., is helping develop a sustainable fuel component as part of bio-based jet fuel research.
(Photo credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Researchers at Washington State University have announced the development of a plant-based jet fuel that could replace petroleum-derived fuels. Based on lignin, an organic plant polymer, WSU jet fuel has been tested for energy density, energy efficiency and emissions. According to the WSU team, the results suggest that their fuel, when combined with other biofuels, could serve as a 100% replacement.

According to Bin Yang, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at WSU and co-author of a study recently published in the journal Fuellignin-based fuel had increased energy density and could completely replace aromatics.

“Aromatics are associated with increased soot emissions, as well as contrails, which are estimated to contribute more to aviation’s climate impact than carbon dioxide,” said co-author Joshua Heyne. , a University of Dayton scientist and current co-director of the WSU-Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Bioproducts Institute.

“Aromatics are still used in fuel today because we don’t have solutions to some of the problems they solve: they provide jet fuel with a density that other sustainable technologies don’t,” said Aromatics. he added. “Most unique is their ability to swell the O-rings used to seal metal-to-metal joints, and they do that well.”

Yang has developed a patented process that converts lignin from agricultural waste into bio-lignin-based jet fuel. According to the researchers, such a sustainable fuel could help the aviation industry reduce its dependence on increasingly expensive fossil fuels while meeting higher environmental standards.

Other contributors to the study include Zhibin Yang, University of Dayton; Zhangyang Xu and Maoqi Feng, WSU; John Cort, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; and Rafal Gieleciak, Natural Resources Canada.

Yang and his team’s research has been supported by DARPA through the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Renewable Laboratory, the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation and WSU Bioproducts. , Science and Engineering Laboratory.


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