Thinking Outside of the Fast Food Box

French fry grease could be seeping its way into the fuel tanks of the Air Force’s high-performance aircraft fleet if DARPA-sponsored biofuels research proves successful. The Pentagon’s advanced research shop is investigating the feasibility of converting that grease, along with other potential nonpetroleum sources of energy like seeds, corn husks, and other plant-based “cellulosic and algae sources,” into JP-8 jet fuel. Barbara McQuiston, DARPA’s lead for the biofuels initiative, said she expects to be able to present for consideration a proven biofuel alternative in the next few years that meets the military’s requirements. “We want to show that this can be done, and that it can be done within a feasible and manufactureable and scalable process,” she said. Like the Air Force’s ongoing efforts to certify its aircraft to run on a hybrid mix of JP-8 and synthetic paraffinic kerosene, DARPA’s biofuel activities aim to reduce the military’s huge reliance on imported oil, lower fuel costs, in general, and produce fewer environmentally unfriendly carbon emissions. (AFPS report by Donna Miles)