Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and its industrial partner LanzaTech have developed a new process to convert ethanol into jet fuel.
The team’s breakthrough comes right on the heels of ASTM revising their standard to allow ethanol as a feedstock to produce jet fuel.
ASTM D7566 Annex A5 – the Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons – states that ethanol can now be used for producing alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK).
LanzaTech is known for producing ethanol using waste gas emissions from industrial sites. By coupling the waste gas to ethanol and ethanol to jet processes, the Lanza hopes to convert industrial waste gases into jet fuel.
PNNL on its part has developed a unique thermocatalytic process for converting ethanol into ATJ-SPK.
The first stage – dehydration – converts ethanol into ethylene. During the second stage – oligomerization – ethylene molecules are chemically combined to build the range of hydrocarbon molecules needed for aviation fuel.
According to the researchers, these hydrocarbons are then hydrogenated, followed by fractionation to produce alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene with the desired properties.
PNNL contends that the process can use ethanol from any source, including ethanol produced via LanzaTech’s proprietary gas-to-ethanol process.
Lanza’s ethanol-derived ATJ-SPK was recently reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and upon verification, was declared fit-for-purpose properties required by ASTM D4054.
ASTM D4054 is the Standard Practice for Qualification and Approval of New Aviation Turbine Fuels and Fuel Additives.
Following this review, a ballot was submitted to the ASTM membership to approve the addition of ethanol as a feedstock in ASTM D7566 Annex A5.
A second ballot was also passed, increasing the blend ratio of ATJ-SPK to 50 percent from 30 percent, implying commercial airlines could now use the same in up to 50 percent blends with conventional jet fuel.
Image, video and content: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory