U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet first supersonic jet to fly on biofuels

A U.S. Navy-owned F/A-18 Super Hornet is the first supersonic jet with afterburners to fly on a biofuels blend.

A U.S. Navy-owned F/A-18 Super Hornet is the first supersonic jet with afterburners to fly on a biofuels blend.

The Boeing-made aircraft lifted off at about 2:45 p.m. on Thursday from a runway at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Md., and was attended by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

The flight is one of a series of 17 biofuel test flights that will be conducted by the Navy, which seeks to certify the use of alternative fuels in military aircraft.

It comes on the heels of a similar flight by the U.S. Air Force with an A-10 Thunderbolt in March.

The jet was fueled with a 50/50 mixture of "green jet fuel" derived from camelina oil and petroleum-based military jet fuel and made by aerospace giant Honeywell's UOP division.

Camelina is an inedible plant considered to be a sustainable resource because it grows in conditions where other food crops cannot.

The fuel was made using a renewable jet fuel process technology developed in a project for U.S. Defense Energy Support Center and, prior to that, under contract by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

The process is based on hydroprocessing technology used in refineries to produce transportation fuels, and allows for a biofuel that can be mixed in with traditional fuel without requiring changes to the aircraft.

Honeywell has been commissioned to produce up to 190,000 gallons of fuel for the Navy and 400,000 gallons for the U.S. Air Force from sustainable, non-food feedstocks, such as animal fats, algae and camelina.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com