The bio-fuel used, a concoction made from the seed of an inedible plant called camelina, was made by UOP, a subsidiary of Honeywell. For Woody’s trip, the camelina fuel was used in the six year old engines (made by Rolls-Royce) of Honeywell’s Gulfstream G-450.
Honeywell’s chief pilot, Ron Weight, reported that the only difference between camelina bio-fuel and aviation fuel is that it has no smell, a feature much appreciated by the ground crew. The G4 also has the word “Experimental” on the fuselage. Honeywell has a waiver from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration allowing this flight – the longest ever made with this type of fuel. The Green Jet fuel has not yet been approved for use by commercial planes but final regulatory approval is expected in the next few weeks. The exciting news is that this will herald the age of clean/green jet travel. Unfortunately it will take a few years before there’s a large enough supply of green fuel to even touch the 60 billion gallons a year of petroleum based fuel used globally.
Jim Rekoske, VP for Renewable Energy and Chemicals of Honeywell’s UOP, remarked that the flight was a special celebration of the approval of the new fuel and the new generation of flight. He said that Honeywell had surmounted all of the hurdles for certification and that they were ready to move into the commercial arena with the new fuel.
Almost all of the world’s major airlines are interested in green aviation fuels. With the high cost of petroleum based aviation fuels, airline profits are currently low. Then there’s the fact that Europe is limiting jet emissions starting in 2012. And airline execs would really like to make flying greener, considering that air travel uses the most carbon fuel of any form of travel.
During Woody’s flight, which took the same path as Charles Lindberg’s 1927 flight, the combo of biofuel and petroleum in the right engine (a 50-50 blend) burned 68% less carbon than the petroleum based fuel in the left engine.
Green Jet Fuel recycles carbon already absorbed by the camelina plants from the air, prior to harvesting in Montana. A company called “Sustainable Oils” crushes and processes the seeds and Honeywell refines the product into jet fuel in Houston.
When the G4 landed at the Paris Air Show, the savings in carbon emissions equaled 5.5 million metric tons. This will make some very wealthy people less guilty about luxury flight. It could also make the corporate jet market a very nice niche for Green Jet fuel, unless distribution challenges prove to be too costly.
During Woody’s flight, co-pilot Rob Odgers mentioned that the bio-fuel powered engine was burning a little less fuel than the conventionally powered engine – not a bad thing! Other than that, pilot Captain Weight said there wasn’t one other difference between the two engines.
This new camelina based fuel is a boon for Honeywell. The Green Jet Fuel is also powering Boeing’s jumbo jet.