Renewable Jet Fuel Takes Flight

Saikat Dutta, postdoctoral researcher at UD’s Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, conducts experiments with catalysts, the chemical “goats” that kickstart chemical reactions.

In 2016, U.S. military and commercial flights together used more than 20 billion gallons of jet fuel. So how do we make air travel easier on the environment? University of Delaware researchers are working to develop an alternative jet fuel that powers planes with corncobs and wood chips instead of petroleum.

Currently, several U.S. companies make renewable jet fuel from materials such as triglycerides extracted from used oil and grease, or from a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen called syngas. Processing this material requires high temperatures (662 °F) and high pressure. Not so with wood chips and corn cobs.