Greater Lafayette Information Technology Society

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by Bob Verplank, Computer Visions

"Green" Aviation Fuel: October 2008

John Rusek and John Ziulkowski
Swift Enterprises

John Rusek, of Swift Enterprises, and his associate, John Ziulkowski, gave us a remarkably fine insight into their new product, a non-lead aviation fuel. This fuel may be produced from a variety of bio-sources. Some of the choices would include corn, Saw grass, algae, and sorghum. Their current generating cell is using sorghum. That choice was made because in Indiana it is possible to produce two crops a year of sorghum or a higher biomass than any other Indiana grain. They have been to the FAA and some preliminary approvals of product and tests have been given.

In the United States, aviation fuel makes up .001% of the total fuels manufactured. It is the only fuel still being manufactured that contains lead. all of this fuel could be produced in a three day run of a petroleum distillation plant. It must still be manufactured because it is the only fuel that is available to the general or private aviation market. It needs to have approximately an octane rating of 100 or better. The gas that you put in the family car maxes out at approximately 92 octane. There are other requirements as well, such is freezing point, vaporization pressure, market access, and delivery points. Their fuel can meet all of the requirements and right now passes all the tests. Another tremendous improvement is that it contains no lead and still meets the octane requirements. That is great news for the environment. With one crop of sorghum per year, space requirement would be approximately 200,000 acres of crop land to produce all of the sorghum necessary to manufacture all of the general aviation fuel in the United States. Roughly that is the land area of Tippecanoe County. This land requirement would be halved if two crops could be produced per year on the land.

The fuel is manufactured in such a way that two components are manufactured and then reblended to meet their manufacturing requirements. Swift Enterprises has purchased the equipment to construct a pilot plant in Delphi Indiana. Delphi was selected because of its agrarian character and the availability of a small airport and the willingness of the public officials to help with such a project. It should be operational by the summer of 2009.

They amused the GLITS group by showing the multimillion dollar small aircraft produced by Boeing to run off of hydrogen with gas stored at 10000 psi. this aircraft was demonstrated several years ago in Germany and flown all the way there with several fuel stops. They also showed some battery powered automobiles.

Swift Enterprises is located in the Purdue Research Park and is approximately 10 years old. Their current staff is 12 and rising. The staff has a wide variety of educational backgrounds which complement one another well. They have had numerous discussions with the FAA, the aircraft owners Association, the experimental aircraft owners association at Oshkosh, and with the manufacturers of general aviation aircraft over the past few months and all discussions have been positive. They have met with the secretary of the department of energy and have received that blessing as well. It is estimated that the current manufacturing cost of ethanol is $1.40, the cost of regular gas is$3.05, and the cost of Swift fuel would be $.91 per gallon based on two sorghum crops per year. The cost of general aviation fuel to the pilot is currently six to seven dollars per gallon.

They also discussed their fuel cell and its unique catalyst and that because of its design could be started and stopped without damage to the fuel cell. Their current fuel cell could be produced for approximately $4,000. That would be for a 10 kw fuel cell which would meet most home requirements. Size would be 4 feet by 4 feet and the fuel could be hydrogen or a bio fuel. In answer to Bob Verplank's question, the answer was, no you cannot pick up one tomorrow.

This meeting was sponsored by Business System Solutions, Bill Ooms President.