Great Plains Oil and Exploration has provided a raw material (Camelina oil) to be converted for an historic KLM biofuel flight. According to a press release issued by the company on December 1, Great Plains Oil and Exploration, which is the world’s largest producer of Camelina seed, oil, and animal feed, has entered the race to bring commercial quantities of Camelina-based aviation biofuel to the market. The company recently provided more than 20,000 gallons of its Camelina oil for conversion to renewable jet fuel. The oil was converted to green jet fuel using technology from UOP, a Honeywell company that has been providing technology to the petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical production, and manufacturing industries for over 90 years. Camelina was used as the source for renewable jet fuel for a demonstration flight conducted by Japan Airlines earlier this year. According to Great Plains, in flight, the biofuel met or exceeded performance specifications for petroleum-based jet fuel. On November 23, 2009, a portion of this jet fuel was used by Dutch airline company KLM for the first biofuel flight with passengers on board. The remaining fuel will be used for additional aviation trials in the coming months. The Great Plains Web site says Camelina presents a unique opportunity for providing a reliable, inexpensive feedstock for biodiesel production. The reason, the site says, is that Camelina has several distinctive characteristics that make its oil perfect for biodiesel. “Camelina contains a high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3), possesses elongase(s) operative with n-9 and n-6 fatty acids, and contains a significant proportion of erucic acid (22:1n-9). The low amount of saturated fatty acids (<10%) is ideal for biodiesel and provides a strong potential for higher ratio biodiesel to petroleum based diesel blending (B20 and above).” According to Great Plains, jet fuel produced from Camelina has previously been called “one of the most promising sources of renewable fuel that we’ve seen” by a senior executive in the airline industry. From a more technical standpoint, Michigan Technological University conducted a life cycle analysis that shows jet fuel made from Camelina could lower emissions by as much as 84% compared to conventional jet fuel. A big plus for Camelina is that when it is not being used for jet fuel, it can be fed to animals! Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that Camelina is acceptable for feedlot cattle. Great Plains had been supplying Camelina for feed for broiler chickens with the result that the product has encouraged healthy weight gain in livestock and is high in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. If you’re interested in reading more about Camelina, click here.
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