Biojet produced from castor varieties under development by Israel-based Evogene, Ltd. meets the key international standards for alternative aviation fuels, according to the company. The analysis was conducted by Evogene, Inc., a fully-owned US subsidiary of Evogene, Ltd., in collaboration with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Honeywell’s UOP.

In April 2009 Evogene Inc. entered into a feasibility agreement with NASA to evaluate the potential use of castor oil as a viable and sustainable feedstock for production of biojet fuel—also known as Bio Synthesized Paraffinic Kerosene (Bio-SPK) and Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet (HRJ). Under the agreement, biojet produced from Evogene castor oil through UOP’s Green Jet technology, is expected to undergo additional advanced testing by NASA and AFRL.

The newly announced results demonstrate that such biojet meets the major ASTM D7566 fuel specifications requirements for alternative aviation fuels containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons. The D7566 fuel specification is written for fuels produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process; however, specifications for alternative aviation fuels containing Bio Synthesized Paraffinic Kerosene (biojet) are expected to be approved for commercial airline use before the end of 2010 or early next year.

A diverse range of feedstocks is critical to creating a sustainable biofuels infrastructure. Castor oil has proven to be a viable second-generation source, and we believe it has the potential to be an important contributor to the production of aviation biofuels.

—Jim Rekoske, general manager of Renewable Energy & Chemicals at Honeywell’s UOP

In April, Evogene announced the results of a Life Cycle Analysis of biodiesel produced from its castor oil, showing that such biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases emissions by 90% compared to petroleum diesel in the US. (Earlier post.)

Evogene, a developer of improved plant traits, is focusing on development of high-yielding castor varieties, suitable for cost-efficient growth on semi-arid lands, using fully mechanized production. The economic target of Evogene’s castor development program is for its varieties to be price competitive without government subsidies at an oil price equivalent to $45 per barrel.

In 2008, Monsanto Company and Evogene Ltd. entered into a five-year research and development collaboration focused on identifying key plant genes related to yield, environmental stress and fertilizer utilization. (Earlier post.)

Evogene is currently testing its castor varieties in field trials in the southern US and northeastern Brazil.