AN EVALUATION AND ECONOMIC STUDY OF ALTERNATIVE JET FUEL FROM JATROPHA CURCAS OIL

Open Access
Author:
Belot, Gaelle Teresa
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Robert Carl Voigt, Thesis Advisor
  • Andre Louis Boehman, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • hydrocracking
  • jatropha
  • alternative jet fuel
  • biojet fuel
Abstract:
The petroleum reserve depletion and the need to preserve the environment has encouraged increasing research on alternative fuel. Aircraft account for about 9% of transportation greenhouse emissions in the USA, which lead to the need to produce alternative jet fuel. Vegetable oils are exploited to create biojet fuel. Jatropha tree is naturally grown in tropical regions. The jatropha oil extracted from its seeds is a non edible feedstock, which makes of it an attractive source of energy. This thesis focuses on developing a jet fuel from jatropha-based vegetable oil conformed to key specifications of the jet fuel in terms of smoke point, cloud point, flash point and Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Test. Jatropha oil was hydrocracked at a temperature of 430oC under atmospheric pressure in microautoclave reactors. The gas and liquid products obtained were analyzed using gas chromatography. The gaseous product included carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and alkanes. The liquid product was mostly composed of alkanes. A small amount of cycloalkanes and aromatics was detected. Simple distillation process allowed separating the hydrocarbons in the jet fuel boiling temperature range from the heavier compounds. The distillate obtained from the hydrocarbons in the jet fuel boiling temperature range was further analyzed in terms of cloud point, smoke point, flash point and oxidative stability. The sample demonstrated good cloud point and smoke point, poor flash point and oxidative stability. The study of the feasibility of the jatropha-based biojet fuel was made based on cost analysis and production. The biojet fuel plant location chosen in this study was Haiti, a country in the Caribbean with regular and legal trades with the United States. The biojet fuel cost was competitive compared to the petroleum-based jet fuel cost.