Air Force C-17s Certified for Unlimited Use of Biofuels

John Davis

The big, beautiful cargo plane you see here is the C-17 Globemaster III, capable of bringing in everything from beans to bullets, as well as taking to war and bringing back home the men and women who serve our country so proudly. And U.S. Air Force officials have certified it for unlimited usage of biofuels, more specifically, hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuels, the first aircraft to receive such a certification.

“This certification marks the Air Force’s first platform to be fully certified using an HRJ blend,” said Dr. Kevin Geiss, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy. “This marks a significant achievement for the Air Force, our alternative fuel certification office and our partners in both industry and across the Department of Defense.”

The certification for usage of HRJ biofuel blended with petroleum-based JP-8 fuel represents part of ongoing efforts by Air Force officials to certify and test biofuels from non-petroleum sources.

The move to certify the fleet using the HRJ blend of fuel represents the Air Force’s commitment to assuring the supply, no matter the source, meets the service’s required standards, and demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to reducing its dependency on foreign sources of oil, Dr. Geiss added.

“We’re very proud of this certification,” said Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. “By using a ‘pathfinder’ approach, we’ve taken the success of our processes developed in our previous alternative fuel certifications work and learned how to efficiently streamline our HRJ certification efforts, while guaranteeing the fuel blend will work without notable difference to the pilots.”

According to Jeff Braun, the Air Force’s alternative fuel certification office chief, the blended fuel evaluation that combined additional analyses from Boeing, Parker ESD and Pratt & Whitney resulted in no significant differences in engine stability, thrust response or engine steady-state performance.

This means that C-17s will be able to fly on a 50 percent mix of the biofuel when using JP-8, the military’s long-time standard fuel for aircraft and a 25 percent blend of HRJ when mixed with synthetic paraffinic kerosene fuel (25 percent) and JP-8 (50 percent). Officials say there will be no need for any aircraft modifications or special handling with the blends.

biofuels, biojet fuel, Government