According to officials with Applied Research Associates (ARA), the University of Florida and its 10 partners, including Applied Research Associates, have won a $15 million contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a carinata-based sustainable jet fuel and bioproducts supply chain. The new team, made up of academia, industry, and other stakeholders is called SPARC, Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata. The goal of the five-year SPARC project is to remove technological, economic, and social barriers to the commercial development of carinata for sustainable fuels, feed, and chemicals production.
Carinata is a non-edible oilseed crop. Interest in carinata as a sustainable feedstock is motivated by a strong foundation in carinata agronomics and management and a good fit with existing agricultural infrastructure. Oil from the carinata seed is well suited for the production of “drop-in” jet and diesel fuels in addition to valuable chemical co-products. Meal from the carinata seed is as valuable as the oil and will be used as a high-protein animal feed supplement. The Southeastern United States is ideal for growing carinata on fallow ground, during the winter, as a second crop that does not interfere with growing traditional summer cash crops. There are millions of acres of row crop land in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina that are suitable for growing carinata, which is already grown commercially on a small scale in North Florida and South Georgia.
ARA’s patented process, called Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH), converts carinata oil into a crude oil that contains the same types of hydrocarbons that are in petroleum. ARA teamed with Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) to commercialize and license this technology. The combination of the ARA CH process and the CLG hydrotreating technology is called the Biofuels ISOCONVERSION process. ARA demonstrated the effectiveness of Biofuels ISOCONVERSION as it produced more than 150,000 gallons of jet and diesel fuels for MILSPEC certification testing by the U.S. Navy. The new Navy jet and diesel fuel specifications will enable the U.S. Department of Defense to purchase and use these fuels neat, without the need to blend with their petroleum counterparts. Production of renewable “drop-in” jet and diesel fuels that do not require blending could be very important in the southeast region because there are no petroleum refineries in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina.
In addition to the production of 100% drop-in fuels from Biofuels ISOCONVERSION, ARA’s Hydrothermal Cleanup process enables the co-production of valuable chemicals from carinata oil including erucic acid, brassylic acid, and glycerin, which can be made into solvents, lubricants, adhesives, nylon, and other polymers. Production of these valuable co-products from carinata enhances the viability of the crop by providing additional commercial opportunities. By establishing a resilient carinata supply chain in the southeast, the SPARC project will create new job opportunities and economic growth in addition to providing energy security. More information will soon be posted at http://sparc-cap.org.