White House Releases Strategy for Alternative Jet Fuels

alternative jet fuel
Image courtesy of Boeing.

The new White House strategy document, Federal Alternative Jet Fuel Research and Development Strategy, sets out prioritized federal research and development (R&D) goals and objectives to address key scientific and technical challenges that inhibit the development, production, and use of economically viable alternative jet fuels at commercial scale.

Alternative jet fuels are important for reducing U.S. dependence on petroleum fuels and may be crucial to achieve carbon-neutral aviation growth. The Alternative Jet Fuel Interagency Working Group, which was established by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council, prepared the report. Zia Haq of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) contributed.

White House goals in the new strategy document center around R&D for feedstocks, fuel conversion and scale-up, fuel testing and evaluation, and integrated challenges. These goals align with BETO’s current work in research, development, and demonstration of biofuel and bioproduct technologies. Other DOE offices, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, are also a part of implementing this strategy.

The research and development goals outlined in the strategy are as follows:

Feedstock Development, Production, and Logistics: R&D goals and objectives in this category represent what individual regional supply chains could do to optimize their systems to reduce cost, reduce technology uncertainty and risk, increase yield, and optimize AJF precursors.

  • Increase crop yields (tons/acre), water and nutrient use efficiency, as well as pest and disease resistance, and improve feedstock conversion characteristics.
  • Develop sustainable feedstock production systems that require minimal inputs, have a high tolerance for environmental stress, and minimize the risk of adverse environmental impacts (e.g., invasiveness, erosion).
  • Improve harvesting, collection, storage, densification, pretreatment, and transportation of physical biomass to the conversion facility.
  • Improve collection, storage, densification, pretreatment, and transportation of municipal solid waste to the conversion facility.

Fuel Conversion and Scale-Up: Fuel conversion and scale-up R&D efforts focus on reducing the cost of production for biochemical, thermochemical, and hybrid conversion processes while increasing the conversion efficiency and volume of fuels produced.

  •  Enable discovery, development, enhancement, and scale-up of conversion processes with improved yield, efficiency, and energy requirements that lead to cost-competitive AJF.
  • Develop conversion technologies that can produce jet fuel from multiple feedstocks in a distributed manner.

Fuel Testing and Evaluation: Federal R&D efforts in fuel testing and evaluation focus on facilitating the approval of additional AJF pathways by enabling the efficient evaluation of fuelengine performance and safety through advancement of certification and qualification processes and collection and analysis of data, including those for combustion emissions.

  •  Facilitate civil and military approval of additional AJF pathways by enabling efficient evaluation for performance and safety through advancement of certification and qualification processes and collection and analysis of data.
  • Improve scientific understanding of how AJF composition impacts gas turbine combustion emissions and operability.

Integrated Challenges: Several key scientific and technical challenges require R&D efforts that either bisect the above components of the AJF development path (i.e., R&D related to feedstock and fuel) or take place outside that path (e.g., during production, deployment, and use). Research in this area requires an interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and multi-faceted approach.

  •  Advance understanding of and improve environmental sustainability of AJF production and use o Develop and validate a comprehensive systems model to support viable AJF deployment.
  •  Promote communication as well as scientific and technical R&D best practices for the national enterprise.


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