But Cobalt believes it is on to something with an advanced catalyst for producing biobutanol. The company announced in early March that a demonstration project with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory “resulted in high sugar conversion (the amount of sugar consumed by the bacteria) and high yields of butanol (the amount of butanol produced by the bacteria).” The company said the tests confirm that its “process to produce renewable butanol is 40-60 percent less expensive than production of petroleum-based butanol using the traditional oxo-alcohol process.”
The bio n-butanol jet fuel for the military will be processed at Albemarle’s Baton Rouge, La., plant and will be closely monitored by the Aircraft Division of the NAWCAD to ensure it passes the standards of the U.S. Department of Defense, according to the Cobalt press release.
In addition to extensive testing in Navy ships, we have also seen the military testing aviation biofuels. Last October the Navy fueled the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with a combination of JP-5 aviation fuel and plant-based camelina. Such blends have been tested by the Air Force in F-22 Raptors while the Navy has used blends in seven different aircraft, including the high-profile Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.