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Sustainable aviation fuel production pathway approved by ASTM

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ASTM International has approved a new production pathway for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), created by Applied Research Associates (ARA) and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG).

The new production pathway, which is called catalytic hydrothermolysis jet (CHJ), is expected to help meet the global need for more sustainable aviation fuels.

“Commercial volumes of competitively priced sustainable aviation fuel are in demand,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s vice-president of fuels development. “The aviation sector is working hard to improve its carbon footprint and the approval of the CHJ pathway adds another great option. We are excited to play our part by accelerating the scaling of sustainable aviation fuels.”

The new annex, ASTM D7566 Annex A6, was approved in December 2019 and was published in the revised specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons in January 2020.

The annex allows blending of up to 50% of ARA and CLG’s ReadiJet biofuel with petroleum-based jet fuel. The biofuel is produced using the ISOCONVERSION process, which was jointly developed by the two companies.

The conversion technology consists of hydrothermal conversion and hydrotreating operations that convert waste fats, oils, and greases into jet fuel. It is a clean, high-thermal-stability fuel that exhibits density and energy content equivalent to petroleum jet fuel.

ARA and CLG, in collaboration with industry partners, produced 70,000 gallons of ReadiJet biofuel that meet the US Navy procurement specification for JP-5, also known as CHCJ-5. The US Navy successfully flew nine EA-18G Growler flights on 100% CHJ, as part of its MILSPEC certification of the fuel in 2016.

“This was a huge team effort to scale and commercialize the technology and achieve the certification of the jet fuel,” added Ed Coppola, who led ARA’s certification effort. “We are thankful for the support of the original equipment manufacturers, the US Navy, the US Air Force, and the FAA and its CLEEN programme, who performed extensive analysis and testing of CHJ.

“We also appreciate the support of organisations such as the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and Airlines for America, who continue to be strong advocates for commercial production of sustainable aviation fuels.”

Thad Sauvain, CLG’s global licensing and sales director, added: “CLG is excited to be able to offer biofuels ISOCONVERSION technology, along with our partner, ARA, to meet the growing demand of renewable fuels. This ASTM certification is further proof of the viability of the products from our technology.”

The conversion technology is now expected to be scaled up in the US and Japan. In the US, a number of commercial projects are in engineering phases, while Euglena Corporation is working to start up its integrated biofuels ISOCONVERSION demonstration facility in Japan. The company intends to deliver CHJ for commercial flights during the 2020 Olympic Games, taking place later this year in Tokyo.