Biofuel Powered Rocket Reaches Speed of Sound

Biofuels for airplanes are desperately needed. Every time an airplane flies carbon dioxide is emitted. According to Greenpeace UK, flying is ten times worse than traveling by train in terms of impact to the environment. A "significant proportion" of a plane's carbon dioxide emissions is at altitude, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization's Air Transport Bureau.

A biofueled rocket launched this summer in the Mohave Desert reached 20,000 feet and Mach 1, the speed of sound. The biofuel that powered the rocket is Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8), developed and produced by a team of scientists from the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). The fuel was made from canola and soybean oils. The rocket was built by Flometrics, Inc. of San Diego, California.

"This is a unique opportunity for the EERC's renewable fuel," said EERC director Gerald Groenwold.

Carsten Heide, associate director of the EERC said, "We demonstrated that this fuel is a flying fuel, and is 100% renewable and burns clean. It would open up the possibility to run 100% renewable, clean planes."

"The demonstration worked very well, and were are pleased with the fuel. In fact, it performed better than expected," said Steve Harrington, President of Flometrics.


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