Camelina-jatropha biofuel powers hydroplane test

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 15, 2009
Posted August 6, 2009

Another round of biofuel testing was accomplished in a Boeing U-787 hydroplane in demonstration test runs conducted at the Chevrolet Cup, part of Seattle's Seafair held July 31 through Aug. 2.

Seattle-based Targeted Growth Inc. supplied the camelina oil that comprised 85 percent of the biofuel which also included 14 percent jatropha oil and about 1 percent algae oil. UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, processed the fuel. The same biofuel mixture helped to power the test flight of a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-300 in January.

The U-787 ran four successful test runs throughout the Seafair weekend, each with a greater percentage of biofuel, culminating in the 100 percent biofuel run on Sunday.
On Friday, the Boeing U-787 posted the fastest lap time of the day at more than 153 miles per hour using a 90 percent biofuel blend. Hydroplane driver Chip Hanauer tested the engine's performance during normal operating conditions, which included quick accelerations, decelerations and cornering in a variety of water conditions. No modifications to the hydroplane or its engine were required for the biofuel mix. The boat's helicopter turbine engine has the same fuel and fuel performance requirements as a commercial airliner.

"I think it's great that Boeing is using a racing venue to demonstrate to our culture that biofuel development is all about performance," said Hanauer after the event, "performance, innovation and sustainability- a great combination!"

"As a Seattle-based company, it was a thrill for us to participate in such an iconic local tradition as Seafair and to play a role in creating new sustainable fuel sources for the industry," said Tom Todaro, CEO of Targeted Growth. "Camelina continues to prove its potential as a high quality, sustainable and well-performing feedstock, whether it's the tanks of a 747 at 30,000 feet in the air or in a hydro at sea level."

Targeted Growth is involved in a joint venture to develop camelina as a biofuel feedstock in Montana and neighboring states and provinces. The bioscience firm is also developing sugarcorn and cyanobacteria algae as biofuel crops.
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