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Sweden tests new biofuel mix on Gripen fighter RM12 engine

Gripen RM12 engine biofuel test
Photo: FMV

The Swedish defense procurement agency FMV says it has completed a successful test of a biofuel that could power an RM12 engine on the Gripen fighter jet.

The testing is part of a joint project with the US Air Force and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which started in October 2013.

The biofuel that was tested, a 50/50 mix of jet fuel and an ATJ (alcohol to jet)-SKA solution, performed exceptionally well, according to FMV. No change in traction and fuel consumption was detected. A 50 percent admixture of biofuel is today the highest permitted according to the fuel specifications for aviation fuel. The test was the first where this particular biofuel was tested in a larger aircraft engine, FMV said.

The test was carried out in a test rig at GKN Aerospace Engine Systems Sweden in Trollhättan. In total, the engine was run for almost three hours with 50/50 mixing. After the test, the combustion chamber of the engine was inspected and no signs could be seen that the 50/50 mixture had affected the combustion chamber.

FMV says further tests are on track to be completed with NAVAIR in 2021, when a final report on the findings is to be submitted to the armed forces.

The latest stage of testing follows on from a March 2017 test when a Gripen C/D with an RM12 engine completed a successful flight demonstration powered by hundred percent renewable biofuel. The biofuel used in that test (CHCJ-5) was developed by the US company ARA on a US Navy contract. The fuel that is being tested this year is produced by Swedish company Swedish Biofuels AB.