BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Sustainable Oils supplied the camelina-based biojet fuel that successfully powered yesterday's Earth Day test flight of the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 "Green Hornet" aircraft.

Taking place at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, the flight was the first to demonstrate the performance of a 50-50 blend of camelina-based biojet fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel at supersonic speeds. Yesterday's use of this camelina-based fuel, which was produced by Honeywell's UOP using its renewable jet fuel process technology, marks a significant milestone in the certification and operational use of camelina-based biofuels in military aircraft.

"The success of the Navy's Earth Day flight again demonstrates that camelina-based jet fuel meets the quality and performance requirements that these aircraft demand," said Tom Todaro, CEO of Sustainable Oils. "We look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. military, as well as commercial airlines, to provide the next generation of domestically-produced aviation biofuels that create revenue and jobs in rural areas, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources."

According to the U.S. Navy, the Green Hornet performed as engineers expected, successfully completing all aspects of the test flight. Yesterday's flight won the praise of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has provided ongoing leadership in the Navy's focus on renewable energy and attended the test flight.

"The alternative fuels test program is a significant milestone in the certification and ultimate operational use of biofuels by the Navy and Marine Corps," said Secretary of the Navy Mabus. "It's important to emphasize, especially on Earth Day, the Navy's commitment to reducing dependence on foreign oil as well as safeguarding our environment. Our Navy, alongside industry, the other services and federal agency partners, will continue to be an early adopter of alternative energy sources."

In September 2009, Sustainable Oils was awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center to supply camelina-based jet fuel to the U.S. Navy. The contract was for 100,000 gallons of HRJ-8 beginning 2009 through 2010, and includes an option to purchase an additional 100,000 gallons between June 2010 and December 2012.

Camelina is the most readily available renewable fuel feedstock that meets the U.S. military's criteria, with the ability to scale up acreage to meet demand. The camelina for the contract, including yesterday's Green Hornet test flight, was primarily grown in 2009 and harvested in September 2009 by farmers in Montana. The company also has several field trials in Washington State.

"Today's flight opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities with camelina," Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) said in a statement. "It's a homegrown, renewable fuel that holds a lot of promise for America's energy security, and for jobs. Montana is going to have a front-row seat as we move forward."

Sustainable Oils also provided the camelina-based jet fuel that powered the historic flight of a U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II on March 25th, 2010, which flew from Florida's Eglin Air Force Base on a 50-50 blend of camelina-based jet fuel and traditional jet fuel. The 90-minute flight marked the first time that any aircraft has been powered by conventional and biomass-based fuel in all engines.

Camelina was selected for initial testing by the military because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, and has already been successfully tested in a Japan Airlines commercial test flight in January 2009. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, and requires less fertilizer and herbicides. It is an excellent rotation crop with wheat, and it can also grow on marginal land. Additionally, camelina has been proven to significantly reduce carbon emissions in aviation fuel. A life cycle analysis (LCA) of jet fuel created from camelina conducted at Michigan Tech University in conjunction with UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company, and Sustainable Oils found that the renewable fuel reduces carbon emissions by 80 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel.

SOURCE: Sustainable Oils.