A lot of self-proclaimed “patriots” seem to love oil as much as they love America. Maybe the military’s use of biofuels can change some minds, as a F-22 Raptor was able to go Mach 1.5 times on 50% camelina oil blend.
The U.S. Air Force wants to achieve 50% of its domestic jet fuel from biofuel blends by 2016. The mixture used in this raptor was 50% JP-8 jet fuel and 50% camelina oil, with the camelina sativa breed being especially desirable for its used in alternative fuels. Jet fuel burns very hot and has a very high octane, which is needed to propel these fighter aircraft to many times the speed of sound. The maximum speed for the Raptor is estimated to be over Mach 2 with afterburners, so going 1.5 times the speed of sound, or over 1,100 mph, without the afterburners is a pretty big deal on 50% biofuel. There was no perceivable loss in power to the plane, and use of the fuel reduces emissions by up to 80% while coming from a domestically grown, inedible plant. Unfortunately, it’s on a jet that may not be around for very long.
The F-22 Raptor, which only formally entered service in 2005, was the center of a bitter debate over budget cuts and military spending. Eventually Secretary of Defense Robert Gates threatened to have the President veto the procurement budget if it included the final order of Raptor air supremacy fighters. Future fighters are sure to have alternative fuel capability as a mandatory requirement when companies submit their bids. This falls in line with the Marines buying two Smith Newton electric trucks, and the Army soliciting bids for a hybrid flying armored car.
Montana has been experimenting with camelina biofuel blends, and I dare you to call one of their cowboys a hippy. Growing fuel from an inedible plant and employing Americans while limiting the money that goes to oppressive regimes is exactly what this country needs. The U.S. military knows that it must wean itself off of oil by 2040, and sees fuel shortages happening as soon as 2015, but I guess some patriots would rather pledge allegiance to oil than practical thinking.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.