What is Biojet Fuel?

History was made when the IAF’s An-32 aircraft using a 10% blend of Indian biojet fuel took off from Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpoche airport on January 31

What is Biojet Fuel?

  • Biojet fuel  is prepared from “non-edible tree borne oil”, and is procured from various tribal areas of India.
  • This fuel is made from Jatropha oil sourced from Chattisgarh Biodiesel Development Authority (CBDA) and then processed at CSIR-IIP, Dehradun
  • Leh is at an altitude of 10,682 ft above mean sea level, and is among the world’s highest and most difficult operational airfields.
  • Evaluating the performance of biojet fuel under conditions prevalent in Leh was considered extremely important from an operational perspective.
  • The technology to produce this fuel was developed by CSIR-IIP in 2013, but it could not be tested and certified for commercial use immediately.
  • This has the potential to reduce carbon footprint by 15 per cent

Requirements and Benefits:

  • Biojet fuel can be produced from animal fat, used cooking oil, waste dairy fat, sewage sludge, etc.
  • The oil needs to have a freezing point below -47 degrees so it doesn’t freeze at altitudes at which planes fly, should not catch fire on ground when being transferred into a plane, must have the same density as ATF, have a certain calorific value and should not choke the filters.
  • Biojet fuel is greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral, carbon neutral, reduces air pollution.
  • Capping its blending with aviation turbine fuel will help to bring down import bill on crude oil.
  • Moreover, commercialization of aviation biofuel promises large-scale employment avenues both in formal and informal sector.
  • The use of bio jet fuel will help in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 15% and sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions by over 99%.

Jatropha(Oil used as Biojet Fuel)

  • Jatropha is drought-resistant perennial plant that can grow in marginal or poor soil. It  grows relatively quickly and lives, produces seeds for 50 years.
  • It is found to be growing in many parts of the country, especially in rugged terrain and can survive with minimum inputs and easy to propagate.
  • It seeds has oil content of 37% which be combusted as fuel without being refined. It burns with clear smoke-free flame.
  • Availability of Jatropha seeds remains a major problem in increasing the production of biodiesel in India. Much has been done to initiate large-scale cultivation, increasing Jatropha yield and switching to substitutes.
  • Since this plant can grow in wastelands across India, and the oil is considered to be an excellent source of bio-diesel, its cultivation is being promoted.

    What’s interesting is that the cultivation of Jatropha can provide farmers with an added income since it can be grown in dry-marginal, no agricultural lands.

    Benefits of cultivating jatropha:

    1. The jatropha plants are hardy and can tolerate water scarcity, making it easy to maintain.
    2. These plants can grow in various soil and climatic conditions: dry, low rainfall, drought areas, and even poor soil conditions.
    3. Cultivating these plants is also known to be helpful in curbing soil erosion.
    4. Once cultivated, these plants generate returns for about 30 years.

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