India’s first first-ever environment friendly biofuel powered flight between Dehradun and Delhi was propelled by blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel. The 43-minute flight was operated by SpiceJet’s Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, with 20 officials and five crew members on board.
This plane had carried blend of 25% of bio jet fuel (derived from jatropha seeds) and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in one of the two engines of plane, while other carried only ATF. This flight was technological demonstration that bio jet fuel can be used in flights. International standards permit a blend rate of up to 50% biofuel with ATF. The blend of bio jet fuel and ATF has potential to reduce fuel costs by 15-20%.
Bio jet 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%. It is expected to provide indigenous jet fuel supply security. Its usage also offers superior engine performance and reduced maintenance cost for the airline operators.
Jatropha is drought-resistant perennial plant that can grow in marginal or poor soil. It is 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. It has been tested successfully as fuel for simple diesel engine. Its oil also acts as insecticide. Moreover, by-products of its seeds like press cake is good organic fertilizer. Jatropha also has medicinal properties and is used for diseases like cancer, piles, snakebite, paralysis, dropsy etc.
Aviation biofuel derived from Jatropha seeds
It was indigenously developed by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab based in Dehradun along with Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP). Its experiment was started in 200 and took nearly eight years to make its use practical.