8/8/2007 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA -- Secretary of the Air
Force Michael W. Wynne announced the completion of the Air Force's
certification of Fischer-Tropsch fuel blends in the B-52H during
a signing ceremony here today.
The signing ceremony certified that the blended FT and JP-8
fuel is safe for operational use in all B-52H aircraft and marked
the formal conclusion of testing.
"The demonstration approach approved by Secretary Wynne
in April 2006 identified five execution steps," said Maj.
Gen. Curtis Bedke, Air Force Flight Test Center commander. "The
final execution step began on Sept. 19, 2006. A B-52 was flown
at Edwards with two engines running synthetic fuel and the remaining
six engines on JP-8 fuel. On Dec. 19, 2006, the B-52 was flown
with all eight engines on the FT blend."
The B-52H was chosen as the test platform because of key advantages
such as its eight engines, he said. The fuel system can simultaneously
isolate, carry and manage both a test fuel and the standard
The Air Force plans to test and certify every airframe to fly
on a domestically-produced synthetic fuel blend by early 2011.
"When I asked that this development be done, the people
at Wright-Patterson (Air Force Base, Ohio) and the (Air Force)
Flight Test Center were excited to push this technology on behalf
of the Air Force and America," said Secretary Wynne.
Every time the price of fuel goes up $10, it costs $600 million
for the Air Force, he said.
"It causes angst to know that we're faced with a commodity
that some might use against us," Secretary Wynne said.
"We want to provide our nation a look forward to something
else and to essentially join with numerous researchers who are
looking for alternatives whether it is ethanol, switch grass,
biomass or Fischer-Tropsch and finding the solution. I think
it is going to be a tremendous partnership across the board."
One of the things planners are looking forward to is a clean
coal to liquid manufacturing process, he said.
"It may involve several manufacturing steps to essentially
neutralize carbon usage and get us to what we want," Secretary
Wynne said. "We want a synthetic blend that will not interrupt
the flow of fuel in our aircraft and airfields and will be a
A 50-percent blend appears to be the right answer, he said.
There are universities across the country trying to determine
why we stopped at 50 percent, Secretary Wynne said.
"So the question is how do you bring this all to fruition?"
he said. "For many years into the future, it is going to
be very difficult to get more than a 50/50 blend on a real basis
and not in a laboratory."
Testers are very pleased with the FT fuel's performance thus
far, he said. The fuel may also reduce maintenance needs.
The next aircraft to be certified for FT fuel is the C-17.
"This will be a bridge into the commercial arena,"
Secretary Wynne said. "We are being watched by many of
our airline colleagues who are not only partnering with us,
but researching our data. We have developed a rigorous process
to qualify this fuel and any manufactured, processed synthetic
fuel and blend."
The Air Force manual is being rewritten to highlight that there
is a process to qualify alternative fuels within the Air Force,
Recently, the Air Force ordered 281,000 gallons of synthetic
fuel for further testing on the C-17 and B-1 engines in the
coming year. NASA is also interested in synthetic fuels and
will receive 9,000 gallons of synthetic fuel from the Air Force
so they can begin evaluating its use in various engines and
"This is the tip of the spear for national energy independence
and cleaner energy," Secretary Wynne said. "It is
doing well for the Air Force and the nation."
Source: USAF/Edwards AFB press Release by Senior Airman