Biofuels may be powering airplanes sooner than you think.  ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, has given preliminary approval for airlines to use a renewable jet fuel blend that includes algae and other plants. 

The new ASTM annex to the alternative jet fuel specification D7566 (Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons) details the fuel properties and criteria necessary to control the manufacture and quality of a renewable fuel to ensure safe aviation use.

The preliminary approval effectively concludes the technical review process for a “hydroprocessed renewable jet” (HRJ) fuel that will will allow hydroprocessing of plant oils as another pathway for production of alternative jet fuels.  Once formally issued by ASTM, the revised specification will enable use of HRJ fuels from biomass feedstocks such as camelina, jatropha or algae, in up to a 50/50 blend with conventional jet fuel.  Formal issuance fo the new standard is expected by August of this year.

Formed in 1898 by chemists and engineers from the Pennsylvania Railroad, ASTM is one of the largest standards-development organizations in the world.  Today, ASTM provides standards setting expertise to diverse industries ranging from metals to construction, petroleum to consumer products, and nanotechnology to additive manufacturing.

The Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA) issued a statement congratulating the ASTM International Committee on Petroleum Products and Lubricants for approving the new jet fuel specification that will further enable the use of sustainable alternative fuels in aviation.  ATA was one of the co-founders of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative® (CAAFI),  a collaborative effort among airlines, engine and airframe manufacturers, airports, universities, the Federal Aviation Administration, the military and others to develop and promote pathways for processes that convert sugars and lignocellulosic feedstocks to jet fuel.

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