ASTM certifies aviation biofuels from plant oils, animal fat

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Certifying body ASTM International has officially approved the commercial use of renewable jet fuels derived from natural plant oils and animal fat.

In an amendment to its D7566 specification, ASTM on 1 July formally gave the green light for up to a 50% blend of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuels - also known as hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuels - to be mixed with conventional kerosene.

This opens the door for commercial flights to run on fuels derived from feedstocks such as algae, camelina or jatropha, or from animal fats called tallow.

The previous D7566 standard allowed for the use of fuel produced from coal, natural gas or biomass using the Fischer-Tropsch process.

"The revision of D7566 reflects an industry co-operative effort to accomplish this task," said the US FAA's Mark Rumizen, who has been heavily involved with securing the revision.

"Because of the great emphasis on safety when you're dealing with aviation fuel, the passage of this ballot required a collaborative and co-operative effort between the members of the aviation fuels community."

The blended jet fuel for which the new standard allows will be "essentially identical to conventional jet fuel and does not differ in performance or operability", added Rumizen.