The US Navy marked "Earth Day" today with a M1.2 supersonic demonstration of a "Green" F/A-18 Super Hornet using a 50/50 mixture of JP-8 jet fuel and biofuel developed in part by Honeywell subsidiary UOP.
The flight, out of the Navy's Patuxent River location, was the first of 15 flight demonstrations and 23 flight hours through mid-June that will be used to certify the 50/50 mix. The 45-minute flight was also the first flight of a supersonic jet with afterburners using a biofuel blend, says the Navy.
Preliminary results from test show that there was no difference in engine performance metrics attributable to the fuel mix, officials say.
Once the entire flight envelope is cleared for the F/A-18's GE F414 engine, the Navy plans to expand its certification efforts to other Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and Navy tactical systems.
The UOP process converts the raw camelina oil, which in this case was produced by Seattle-based Sustainable Oils from the inedible camelina plant, into a renewable fuel through a hydro-treatment at a facility in Texas. The renewable fuel portion, which does not have the aromatics associated with petroleum derived fuels, must be mixed with JP-8 to prevent damage to certain seals and other engine components, says a UOP spokewoman.
UOP is under contract to US Defense Energy Support Center to produce for the Air Force and Navy 600,000 gallons of hydro-treated jet fuel delivered by seven vendors using a variety of feedstock, including camelina, animal fats and algae.
The Air Force in March successfully performed the first flight of an A-10 Thunderbolt II using the camelina mixture.
UOP's "Green Jet Fuel" process technology was originally developed in 2007 under a
contract from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to produce renewable jet fuel for the US military.