FAA to announce grant awards to benchmark alternative fuel procedures

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to shortly announce grant awards designed to benchmark jet biofuels derived from alcohols, pyrolysis and other processes.

Agency executive director of the office of environment and energy, office of policy, international affairs, Lourdes Maurice supplied that update during a 28 July Congressional hearing on biofuels.

The grants are part of an initiative conducted by the Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration's Volpe Centre.

Organisations receiving the grants will benchmark fuel quality, conduct engine durability tests with alternative fuels and perform key testing to support qualification and certification of the fuels, said Maurice.

She explained the grants and testing are intended to support the next round of fuel approvals currently targeted to begin in 2013. Certifying body ASTM issued D7566 in September 2009, which allowed the use of blends of up to 50% synthetic fuels produced with the Fischer-Tropsch process. An amendment to that certification was issued this July 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.

The latest approval opens the door for commercial flights to be operated with fuels derived from feedstocks such as algae, camelina or jatropha, or animal fats referred to as tallow.

Joining Maurice, Boeing vice-president of environmental strategy and aviation policy Billy Glover highlighted that Lufthansa recently started daily HRJ-powered flights from Hamburg to Frankfurt.