DARPA Solicitation – Can You Replace JP-8 Jet Fuel With a Biofuel?
Reader Lisa Wright tips us to the fact that DARPA is interested in R&D proposals to develop a process that efficiently produces a surrogate for petroleum based military jet fuel (JP-8) from oil-rich crops produced by either agriculture or aquaculture (including but not limited to plants, algae, fungi, and bacteria) and which ultimately can be an affordable alternative to petroleum-derived JP-8. The problem, as DARPA puts it, is that: “Current commercial processes for producing biodiesel yield a fuel that is unsuitable for military applications, which require higher energy density and a wide operating temperature range. Subsequent secondary processing of biodiesel is currently inefficient and results in bio-fuel JP-8 being prohibitively expensive.”
As DID readers know, the Defense Department has been directed to explore a wide range of energy alternatives and fuel efficiency efforts in a bid to reduce the military’s reliance on oil to power its aircraft, ground vehicles and non-nuclear ships.
If your organization, or one you know, thinks it has what it takes to crack the JP-8 problem (pun intended), you can see more details, award criteria, and contact information here. The opportunity will be open until July 5, 2007, or until a contract is awarded. In the near term, there will be a July 25, 2006 Proposers’ Day at Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, CO (4 attendees per organization max) – please send e-mail to BAA06-43 over at darpa dot mil not later than July 14, 2006 if you plan to attend.
Dec 15/06: The USAF pilots a B-52 running all 8 engines on a “Fischer-Tropsch” synthetic blend derived from natural gas. Note that this isn’t a biodiesel fuel, but natural gas is an interesting substitute because its markets are limited by pipeline transportation rather than international – and the test does illustrate the experiments underway.
Sept 29/06: A Boeing executive believes the biofuels idea has some promise, but describes the challenges.