Archive for ASTM International
www.nationalgeographic.com 20th May 2011
The high prices of oil around the world may benefit the adoption of more renewable fuels for transport. New tests by the US Department of Defence have shown that Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ) fuel, which is kerosene derived from natural sources such as plants or animal fat, is a viable alternative to normal fossil fuels. ASTM International, the standard-setting body of the aviation, is now poised to vote on the certification of HRJ. Successful tests by the US Airforce have seen jets fly at supersonic speeds using a 50:50 composite of renewable and petroleum based fuels. The civil unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa has helped bump up oil prices, but aviation fuel is harder hit than some other types. During such shortages, refineries cut production of aviation fuel in favour or more profitable products such as diesel. Also, the tsunami and earthquake in Japan caused outages across three refineries further reducing the amount of aviation fuel on the market. The result is a 50% increase in prices over last year (a 30% increase from the beginning of 2011 alone). As fuel takes up the largest expenditure for an airline, the inevitable knock-on effect is falling profits or even losses. Although other biofuels have been put forward to replace regular petroleum fuels, none have succeeded as they either rely on fossil fuels to power the production process or are too energy intensive. HRJ is different however as it relies upon hydrogen to turn natural materials into fuel. The diversity of the feedstock is also hugely beneficial.