Two of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds aerial team members recently flew their F-16s in a Department of Defense aerial team show running on a blend of camelina-based biofuel and regular jet fuel. Sustainable Oils, the company responsible for supplying the biofuel blend, points out that while biofuel has been previously tested, this is the first time it has ever been used for an aerial field show.
Sustainable oil’s biofuel product is made using Camelina Sativa, which is technically considered a “weed” because it isn’t native to North America. The plant requires very little water or nitrogen and doesn’t compete with food crops. In fact, it is often used in rotation with wheat crops to help regenerate soil and thrives in unirrigated fields where other crops won’t grow. What makes it particularly useful in the field of biofuels is that its seeds yield high quantities of oil (35-38% of the seeds is oil) which are exceptionally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the Air Force, it has now tested and certified 50/50 blended biofuel and regular jet fuel in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15 Eagle, the C-17 Globemaster III, and the F-22 Raptor. Sustainable Oils notes that Air Force officials have stated that the biofuel blend is on track for fleetwide certification sometime in 2013.
Sustainable Oils claims it has provided almost 500,000 gallons of camelina-based biofuel blend to multiple branches of the US military for its certification programs, which makes Camelina the most heavily tested alternative fuel feedstock.