Navy blends Jet A and algae-based biofuel, uses it to power Seahawk chopper (video)

Zach Honig
Z. Honig|06.24.11

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Navy blends Jet A and algae-based biofuel, uses it to power Seahawk chopper (video)

Considering that helicopters are entirely dependent on a spinning rotor to remain in the air, an MH-60S Seahawk doesn't exactly seem the most likely candidate for experimental fuel. That didn't seem to stop the US Navy, however, which successfully completed a test flight with a 50 / 50 blend of algae-based biofuel and Jet A (traditionally the flavor of choice for turbine-based aircraft). The mixture used is known as Solajet HRJ-5 Jet fuel, which doesn't quite have the same ring to it as good ole Jet A -- but it does happen to be based on a renewable resource and managed to keep the rotor spinning. There's no word on how much the new fuel costs to produce or when it might be ready for commercial use, but if all goes to plan, we may soon be using the green stuff for more than just sushi rolls and miso soup.

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Solazyme Announces Successful MH 60S Seahawk Helicopter Test Flight on a 50/50 Blend of Algal Derived Solajet®HRJ-5 Jet Fuel

Applauds ASTM International historic preliminary approval of algae based biofuels for aviation

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Solazyme, Inc. (NASDAQ:SZYM), a renewable oil and bioproducts company, announced today that the US Navy successfully demonstrated Solazyme's 100% algal-derived jet fuel, Solajet®HRJ-5, in an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter test flight in a 50/50 blend with petroleum-derived jet fuel. This marks the first military aircraft to fly on an algal-based jet fuel in history. This test flight preceded the historic announcement by ASTM International that it has preliminarily approved biofuel from algae and other renewable sources to be blended with traditional jet fuel on commercial flights worldwide, with formal approval expected sometime in July.

"We applaud ASTM International and the ATA and CAAFI for their efforts to advance the world's newest and most sustainable fuels for aviation. The aviation industry has demonstrated a strong leadership position in fuel supply diversification and sustainability, and today's announcement is a major step in its efforts to commercialize advanced low-carbon biofuels," said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO, Solazyme.

"Solazyme is honored to be working with the US Navy and DLA-Energy in driving forward the testing and certification process for advanced biofuels. The successful flight demonstration of the Seahawk helicopter on a 50/50 blend of Solajet®HRJ-5 and petroleum-derived jet fuel marks a significant milestone in this process, and reinforces the Navy's commitment to securing our nation's energy supply."

Honeywell UOP was the refining partner on the jet fuel delivery, and has been working with Solazyme since 2009 on multiple contracts with the US military.

To date, Solazyme is the only company to provide the US Navy with microbially-derived advanced aviation and marine fuel. These advanced biofuels are drop-in replacements to petroleum-based fuel, requiring no modification to engines or military logistics infrastructure. The fuels also meet Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
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