Rentech has said that an engineering validation flight was conducted by United Airlines using Rentech's certified synthetic jet fuel (RenJet).

In December 2009, United Airlines, along with twelve other domestic and international passenger and cargo carriers, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that is intended to serve as a framework for a future supply agreement for approximately 250 million gallons per year of certified synthetic jet fuel from Rentech’s proposed synthetic fuels and power facility in Adams county, Mississippi.

The synthetic jet fuel used in the engineering validation flight was produced at Rentech’s product demonstration unit. RenJet, produced from renewable or fossil feedstocks, is an alternative fuel type certified for use by commercial aviation.

Rentech’s synthetic jet fuel can be distributed and used in existing infrastructure including pipelines and engines and are cleaner burning than traditional petroleum-derived jet fuel, the company said.

Hunt Ramsbottom, president and CEO of Rentech, said: “Rentech is proud to partner with United Airlines to demonstrate the viability of certified synthetic jet fuel as an environmentally superior and economically competitive alternative fuel source that can be produced domestically with US jobs.

“This flight, along with the customer agreements we are pursuing with the airlines, validates the considerable market demand for synthetic fuels produced by the Rentech Process. The value of Rentech’s technology lies in its flexibility to use renewable and fossil feedstocks to produce drop-in, certified fuels that are clean-burning and ready for commercial-scale production today.”

The validation flight was conducted using a 40/60 mix of Rentech’s synthetic jet fuel with conventional Jet A fuel in one of two engines on an Airbus 319 aircraft. The aircraft departed Denver International Airport and climbed to an altitude of 39,000ft where the onboard team collected data on the performance of the fuel during several maneuvers, including taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, auxiliary power unit start, descent and approach.

The synthetic jet fuel, derived from natural gas and converted to liquid fuel through the Rentech Fischer Tropsch process, is approved by ASTM International.

Earlier this year, Rentech and ClearFuels Technology jointly received a $22.6m grant from the US Department of Energy to construct a biomass gasifier at Rentech’s Energy Technology Center in Denver. The gasifier will be integrated with Rentech’s product demonstration unit for the production of renewable synthetic fuels from biomass in late 2011.