As you may recall, last August the Navy put out a call to biofuel companies for 40,000 gallons of fuel to start testing in their F/A-18 Super Hornet jet. Sustainable Oils ultimately won the contract to develop biofuel for the military branch and now the Navy is prepared to take the Hornet on a supersonic flight using a blend of 50 percent jet fuel and 50 percent camelina-based oil.
Tomorrow, at the Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland, the so-called "Green Hornet" will fly over the Chesapeake Bay, hopefully proving that biofuels can perform well in a full range of flight operations, including traveling faster than the speed of sound. The Super Hornet was picked as a test craft for biofuels because it's the Navy's largest aviation fuel-consumer.
Camelina biofuel has shown itself to be a great choice for jet fuel blends because it can work as a drop-in replacement for jet fuel. All aircraft systems -- fuel gauge, etc. -- operate the same as if it were straight petroleum. Also, a recent study found that the use of camelina jet fuel could reduce carbon emissions by 84 percent compared to regular jet fuel.
The Hornet won't be the only naval craft to get a makeover though. The Navy has committed to getting half of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, which will include cleaning up ships, aircraft and all of their power systems. The U.S. military is the world's greatest consumer of petroleum, so their commitment to reducing that consumption is an important one.
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