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F-22 Raptor hits Mach 1.5 on camelina-based biofuel

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March 23, 2011

An F-22 Raptor powered by biofuel takes off March 18, 2011, at Edwards Air Force Base, Cal...

An F-22 Raptor powered by biofuel takes off March 18, 2011, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin North)

The U.S. Air Force's goal of acquiring 50 percent of its domestic aviation fuel via alternative fuel blends derived from domestic sources by 2016 got a boost on Friday March 18, when an F-22 Raptor was successfully flown at speeds of up to Mach 1.5 on a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 (Jet Propellant 8) and biofuel derived from an inedible plant called camelina. The flight capped off a series of ground and flight tests carried out earlier in the week for the Raptor using the biofuel blend to evaluate its suitability in the F-22 weapons system.

Testing consisted of air starts, operability and performance at different speeds and altitudes. The test flight saw the F-22 Raptor perform several maneuvers, including a supercruise (a supersonic flight without using the engine's afterburner) at 40,000 feet reaching speeds of Mach 1.5.

"The F-22 flew on Friday, March 18 and performed flawlessly on the biofuel blend citing no noticeable differences from traditional JP-8," said Jeff Braun, director of the Air Force'sAlternative Fuels Certification Division.

The biofuel was derived from camelina sativa, a member of the mustard family and a distant relative to canola. It is a fast growing crop that can survive on little water and requires less fertilizer than many other crops. Studies have shown that camelina-based jet fuel reduces carbon emissions by around 80 percent. Additionally, its meal – what is left after oil has been extracted from the seed – has been approved by the USDA for livestock and poultry feed.

Camelina-derived synthetic fuel has been used to power a variety of military and commercial aircraft, including Europe's first biofuel-powered passenger flight in 2009. It falls into a class of hydroprocessed blended biofuels known as hydrotreated renewable jet fuels (HRJs) that can be derived from a variety of plant oil and animal fat feedstocks.

In February, Air Force officials certified its entire C-17 Globemaster III fleet for unrestricted flight operations using the HRJ biofuel blend. The success of the F-22 Raptor biofuel-powered flight suggests further similar certifications won't be far behind.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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13 Comments

I think that the phrase is incorrect (since it is a free edit dictionary) as the F-22 is as large as any contemporary two-engined fighter plane. Also, the only way to camouflage a plane so far is to simply paint it a blue-greyish color, which is the average color of the sky.

Facebook User
24th March, 2011 @ 02:46 am PDT

Wasn't this jet supposed to be cancelled by the Pentagon?

Jeffrey Hoffman
24th March, 2011 @ 11:20 am PDT

In spite of the article's attempt to make the use of biofuel to power this Air Force jet as benign as possible (the residue use as cattle feed, the plant used is non-edible for humans, less oil-based jet fuel is used, less fertilizer is needed, etc.), what is not addressed is how much arable land would be taken out of service for growing this bio-jet-fuel plant. It still boils down to taking food out of the mouths of a hungry planet for the sake of the never ending pursuit of more efficient death-dealing weapons systems.

Janet Bratter
24th March, 2011 @ 02:49 pm PDT

The benefit of using vegitated sources such as switchgrass, kudzu and camelina is that

the need of water, fertilizer and soil quality is not required at the same level to farming edible products. Soil of poorer quality can be put to use to grow vegitable sources that

are,though inedible, they will have a growing and valuble social need . Energy.

The experiment of camelina as a jet propellant will not be limited to military usage.

The test of these biofuel sources will have valuble impact on comercial transportation

such as Southwestern Airlines, automobiles , trucks, motorcycles and the like.

My question is why is it taking so long for The U.S. to see the potential of Bio-fuels

in comparrison to carbon based energy sources. The resourcesare just as plentiful

to harness as fossil fuel sources.

Facebook User
24th March, 2011 @ 08:22 pm PDT

Janet, there's something to be said for pacifism, but your knee-jerk aversion to anything having to do with the armed forces is blinding you to the facts. Camelina is also a rotation crop for wheat, improving crop yields for the latter. You can't plant wheat in the same soil year after year without degrading its fertility. Crop rotation is an essential agricultural technique. Camelina oil can also be used for cooking and some sources say it's healthier than many of the oils we currently use, like corn or soybean.

Gadgeteer
24th March, 2011 @ 10:07 pm PDT

To grow a plant for biofuel means to destroy many forests and habitats and efficiency ozone for an army of planes or cars. Does US army they know what disaster they propose to "save" the Planet?

Why they don't waste the money on hydrogen or water fuel engines, because water will be more available if they destroy the forest and after that the Antarctica?!

Facebook User
25th March, 2011 @ 03:39 am PDT

Gazeteer, if camelina can be used for cooking, then it must be edible. Unless you're speaking of cooking inedible stuff.

IggyDalrymple
25th March, 2011 @ 11:51 am PDT

Why are people who know nothing about science commenting on stories about science? "Water fuel engines"? That's about as stupid a notion as anyone can come up with. Hydrogen from water is great, except it takes a lot of energy to create it, more than you get from burning the hydrogen. And hydrogen is very bulky and extremely difficult to store and handle. Just look at how big and complex the space shuttle external fuel tank is. You can't just pump it into an existing fuel tank and use it like jet fuel. Besides, camelina can grow in areas that will not support conventional agriculture. You don't have to "destroy many forests" to grow it. Also, the "US Army" doesn't fly the F-22. The Air Force does. And developing domestic biofuels is not just to "save the planet." The US military burns over 100 million barrels of oil a year, most of which doesn't come from US sources. It's just not smart to rely on sources of oil that may or may not be friendly with us in the future.

Iggy, what are you talking about? Yes, camelina oil is edible. Just like canola oil. Do you know of anyone who eats canola seeds? Refined cottonseed oil is also usable for cooking. Raw cottonseed can be toxic for humans, but is fine for cattle feed, so yes, there are seeds that are inedible for humans yet usable for cooking oil. Please learn something before you embarrass yourself further.

Gadgeteer
25th March, 2011 @ 06:00 pm PDT

Gadgeteer -

It's not you, you are not crazy. I am reading the other posts and scratching my head as well. It is almost as if they cannot read, but, have somehow managed to learn to type. It's a scientific anomaly to be sure.

Most of them probably don't even realize that this IN-TER-NET thing that they are consuming was created, and funded, by the U.S. Department of Defense. So, if it weren't for those 'death-dealing' weapon mongers, or whatever Janet called them, she wouldn't have a forum to spew her ineptitude.

The article is encouraging because we (the U.S. Air Force) are spending money on something with a broad range of potential applications. Someone had asked why were aren't doing more with BioFuels. Doesn't this article prove that we are trying to do more with them? We have learned that Corn is not economical or sustainable and has many other issues mentioned above (arable land, crop depletion, etc.). It seems that this is a step towards finding sustainable and economical solutions to BioFuels. Of course, the article didn't mention what it costs, but what it costs today isn't really all that relevant anyway.

Facebook User
25th March, 2011 @ 07:27 pm PDT

Uhhh... Firstly, to the hydrogen fuel guy... You got to learn English before you post here, in order for your opinion to be taken remotely seriously.

To the people arguing that biofuels waste land and energy on plants that won't feed humans... If you've read the article at all, it explains that the plant (camelina) requires much less fertile land than other staple crops, and requires less water. I would rather have people develop biofuel from a crop that doesn't need water or fertilizer, than from crops such as corn that require a ton of fertilizer, and quite frankly, would be better served in feeding the starving populations of the world than for ethanol in our SUVs.

Facebook User
26th March, 2011 @ 09:00 pm PDT

ECO friendly way kill unfriendlies, sweet. I know I am a hippie dork that likes guns. plus how many ways do we need to kill each other, end result is the same. We will all die in due time. As much as that sucks we can't all be Walt Disney frozen in a cryogenic spuspension.

Peace to all, and if not keep your powder dry and your head down.

Justin Schetrompf
27th March, 2011 @ 08:36 pm PDT

Anybody else think that opening up comments to random Facebook users has diluted the quality of the discussions here on Gizmag....? Just wonderin'...

Matt Rings
28th March, 2011 @ 10:45 pm PDT

Utilisons l'huile de cannabis pour voler deux fois!!!!

Christian Doyen
3rd April, 2011 @ 02:44 am PDT
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