Machine Design

Algae-powered military jets?

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. and Livermore, Calif., hope to produce military Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) fuel from plants, including microalgae, for the U.S. and NATO.

The 18-month effort is led by UOP, LLC, a Honeywell Co., and backed by a $6.7 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency award.

Sandia researchers are evaluating oil crops that will not compete with food and feed markets. They want crops that don’t need higher-quality agricultural land, and demand less energy and fresh water than other crops.

Fuel made by the new process will have to meet military specifications and should be 90% energy efficient to reduce waste and production costs. UOP expects the technology will one day be used to make commercial jet fuel.

The project is expected to finish by the end of next year.

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