India’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced that it has awarded provisional clearance to a domestically developed technology, which produced bio-based jet fuel for use on military aircraft. This technology was developed by the laboratory of the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), along with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The ministry emphasised that the fuel underwent inspection and evaluation testing, along with trials over the last three years. The certification announced on the 29th of November marks an acknowledgment of the satisfactory results obtained from various ground and inflight testing.
The testing of airborne items is a complex and meticulous process, the laboratory insisted. The process involved intricate checks and balances while ensuring the highest levels of flight safety while operating with the biofuel. International aviation standards define the scope of these rigorous assessments, and without their approval, the technology would become only a potential failure. Fuel is the lifeline of any aircraft and requires a thorough analysis before being filled into manned flying machines. The approval is a big thing, considering it resulted after the culmination of many years of intensive research and active support from agencies like Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Panipat Refinery, and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). This provisional clearance allows the Indian Air Force to use bio-based jet fuel, produced using CSIR-IIP’s technology across all operational aircraft, thereby enabling commercialisation of the technology.
This technology of producing Indian bio-jet fuel can be developed using cooking oil, tree-borne oils, short gestation oilseed crops, etc., typically grown off-season by farmers, and waste extracts from edible oil processing units. This technology will also reduce air pollution by virtue of its ultra low sulphur content compared with conventional jet fuel and contribute to India’s Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions targets. Additionally, one of the biggest governing factors is it will aid in enhancing the livelihood of farmers and indigenous tribes engaged in extracting, collecting, and maintaining non-edible oils. The certification represents India’s growing confidence in the aviation biofuel sector and is another step towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, a programme introduced towards self-reliant and self-sufficient India.