About HRJ Feedstock

Certified hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuels from plant oils have been commercially demonstrated, but full- scale production has not occurred because pricing is not competitive with petroleum fuels. The price of HRJ fuels is 10% conversion technology-related, and 90% feedstocks associated. This proposal uses an integrated systems approach to address multiple supply chain barriers to establishing a dependable supply of high-quality oil seed feedstocks for the production of HRJ fuels.

Three supply chain performance barriers are addressed:

(1) Conversion efficiency - feedstock percentage converted to HRJ fraction and contaminants removed by pre-processing;

(2) Feedstock production efficiency - plant oil produced per input unit and system competitiveness with existing land uses; and

(3) Feedstock and fuel market development - feedstock supply organization and alignment of rural community, business, and finance interests to create sustainable biofuel supply chains.

Our integrated plan is centered on UOP’s Ecofining® and Renewable Jet® conversion technologies. To optimize feedstock quality/anti- quality characteristics and feedstock supply with the operational specifications of HRJ conversion facilities, the research will focus on integration of an elite Brassica oilseed breeding program with molecular breeding through joint linkage-association mapping using diversity and recombinant inbred line (RIL) populations that segregate for seed oil and adaptive traits to accelerate the improvement of advanced breeding materials of B. napus, the most productive oil seed crops adapted to the western wheat belt region. The B. napus germplasm also possesses some of the most diverse oil compositional profiles of all the oilseed crops, a fact that will allow for efficient targeted design of optimal oil properties for conversion efficiency. We will identify superior performing germplasm for high-market-value of B. napus.

Oilseed crops will be developed and best management practices identified that can be integrated into existing wheat-based systems. Information from space- and ground-based sensor technologies will be utilized to improve feedstock quality, increase extraction efficiency, and enhance profitability. Region- wide comparisons of B. napus will be made to alternative oil seed crops B. rapa, B. juncea, and Camelina sativa at 10 diverse locations in six ecoregion provinces to determine the best crop for each region and the factors that generate this performance.

Because many farmers will need to be contracted to supply dependable volumes of oilseed feedstocks to crushers and ultimately biorefiners each requiring 20-million gallons or more of high quality oil, concurrent business development efforts will build local access networks to connect feedstock producers and rural economic development interests with biorefinery developers and allied business and financial institutions that are needed to establish commercial biorefinery operations.

The plant materials, technology, and best management practices will be co-developed with intended user communities so research products will meet their needs. Documentation of alternative system impacts on natural resources quality, wealth, and jobs creation at on-farm, rural community, and regional scales will provide policy makers, federal service agencies, and regulators with science-based information to develop programs and make decisions when evaluating the technical and economic viability of regionalized oil seed to HRJ fuel businesses.

Project Lead: USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)