Alt Fuels Being Added to Jet Fuel Specs

John Davis

ataEarlier this month, I told you about how the airlines have been more and more accepting of biofuels (see my posts from June 1 and June 19). Now, it looks like the organization that sets standards for fuels, including jet fuels, is also approving of biofuels for the friendly skies.

This press release from the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, is praising the ASTM International Aviation Fuels Subcommittee for approving a new specification that allows synthetic fuels to be used in aviation and possibly the approval of blended biofuels for the airlines this fall:

“The action of the ASTM subcommittee is a landmark step for all consumers of jet fuel,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “It signals the beginning of a new era for widespread production and use of cleaner, alternative fuels that not only will help the airline industry meet its environmental goals but also will provide airlines with more competitive options for purchasing jet fuel while simultaneously enhancing U.S. energy security.”

The ASTM subcommittee action had two key components: it approved a process for various classes of alternative fuels to be added to the jet fuel specification, while specifically supporting synthetic fuels derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process to be the first alternative included under the specification. Once approved by ASTM, this synthetic fuel can be blended up to 50 percent with conventional, petroleum-derived jet fuel and used by commercial air carriers and private aviation operators, as well as in U.S. military applications.

More testing will need to be done before full ASTM approval.