Thursday, April 19, 2007

Flying on Fat

Hog fat. Triglycerides. Cooking grease. Algae oil. These are among the latest ingredients being cooked up in what a team of researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, hope will become a green alternative to petroleum-based jet fuel.

The process converts low-grade fats and oils, including animal fats, into jet fuel by subjecting them to extremely high temperatures, reducing the original materials to fatty acids and removing carbon dioxide from those acids. Those fatty acids, called alkanes, are then reformed into the hundreds of different molecules that comprise jet fuel.

The result could be a cleaner-burning, renewable aviation fuel that releases far less soot and harmful pollutants into the great BIG blue than conventional, petroleum-based fuels, said project leader and NCSU aerospace engineering professor Bill Roberts. The low quality animal fats and oils that would be used to make this bio-jet fuel are 30 percent cheaper than the virgin vegetable oils commonly used in automotive biofuels, Mr. Roberts said.

RED HERRING | Flying Fat

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