Green jet fuel made from the jatropha plant recently helped an Interjet Airbus A320-214 fly from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.
UOP LLC, an Illinois-based subsidiary of Honeywell International, supplied the technology needed to convert Mexican-sourced jatropha, an inedible plant that can be grown in many climates and does not compete with the food chain, into green jet fuel. During this process, hydrogen is added to remove oxygen from natural oils produced by feedstocks like jatropha and algae.
The biofuel was blended with traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel to supply power for one of the aircraft’s engines. When used at up to a 50/50 ratio, the blended fuel can be used without changes to the aircraft technology and meets all of the critical specifications for flight.
Jatropha is just one of a group of plant sources for biofuel that are growing in popularity because they can be cultivated without competing with land used for food production. Algae, salicornia, switchgrass, and hemp are also being tested as alternatives for corn and petroleum-based fuels.