Drew Xandrine Anderson
Raw Materials in Jet Fuel
The basis of jet fuel and all oils are just two elements. These two elements are hydrogen and carbon. These two elements are responsible for making up all forms of oil and natural gasses. Chemicals that consist of carbon and hydrogen are classified as hydrocarbons.
Every single oil and natural gas that we know and use today was once a microscopic organism. Whether it was a plant or an animal, these microscopic organisms lived together, in the ocean, millions of years in the past. These tiny organisms received energy from sunlight, and this energy from the sun turned into carbon molecules. They stored these molecules in their bodies along with the hydrogen. When these tiny microorganisms died, they sank to the bottom of the ocean, and were eventually buried after many layers of sediment formed over them. Along with the sediment, many bacteria and plants came as well.
Pressure and heat began to rise as the microorganisms were buried deeper and deeper. The rise of heat and pressure led to whether or not the microorganisms were turned into oil or gas. As heat was added, the organisms turned into light forms of oil. As more and more heat was added, the organisms would turn into natural gas.
Once these oils and natural gasses were formed, they began to move throughout tiny holes in the bedrock. Some of the natural gasses and oils were able to escape and move all the way up to the surface. However, the rest of these oils and natural gasses were trapped under layers of rock that were too strong to be escaped. These places where the oils and natural gasses are trapped are where we dig and search for natural gasses and oils today.
Before the demand rose exponentially for these oils, they were easy to find. These natural oils were actually first captured by depending on surface seepage. However, this tactic stopped being used as the easily captured oils began to run out. After these easy-to-capture natural oils ran out, people began to dig far underground to search for them. The demand for these oils has been so high that people currently dig thousands of feet under the ocean and go to the earth’s most extreme climates to find oil. This is a direct representation of supply and demand. When the supply of oil goes down, which it has, then the demand goes up, which would lead to something like higher gas prices.
Although the easy-to-capture oil has ran out, we do not have to worry about the earth’s supply of oil running out any time in the near future. There is still an ample supply of oil lying beneath earth’s bed rock. We currently have drill ships that are able to be stationary in the water and drill for oil. Many of these ships are stationed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Along with using drill ships for capturing oil, we still use drilling sites in large open areas. Drilling for oil is not as easy as it may seem, however. There are many things that could go wrong with drilling. Because of these risks, there are three main steps to assist in the process of drilling. These three techniques are called primary, secondary, and enhanced recovery. Primary recovery allows the natural underground pressure to push the natural oil to the surface of the earth. Primary recovery by itself, however, only retrieves up to 10 percent of the oil.
After the primary recovery technique is used, the secondary recovery technique comes in. During secondary recovery, the water that was separated from the oil at first, is pushed back into the ground to help push more oil up to the surface. This technique is one of the most widely used because along with helping push oil to the surface, it also enables the water to return to its original source. The secondary recovery technique can help retrieve an extra twenty percent of the oil to the surface.
The enhanced recovery technique is considered the last resort in bringing oil to the surface. There are three main ways of performing enhanced recovery. These three ways are: thermal recovery, gas injection, and chemical flooding. Thermal recovery is where steam is injected down where the oil is. The heat from the steam makes the oil flow easier to the surface, along with increased pressure.
Gas injection uses one of two types of gasses. These two types of gasses are called miscible and immiscible. The miscible type of gas dissolves methane, carbon dioxide, and other gasses in the oil in order to lower the viscosity in the oil. Having a lower viscosity enables the oil to flow more freely. The immiscible gasses do not combine with the oil, however, these immiscible gasses help raise the pressure. This enables more oil to rise to the surface.
The final enhanced recovery technique is called chemical flooding. In this process, dense, water-soluble polymers are mixed with water and released into the underground field where the oil is. The water forced the oil out of the underground field and into the well. These three enhanced recovery techniques are able to raise close to sixty percent of the oil in the reserve to the surface.
After the water is taken out of the well, it tends to be mixed with some water and a little bit of natural gasses. Before the oil can be sent to the market, however, the water and natural gasses have to be removed so that the oil can be classified as “pipeline quality”. In order to separate the gas and water from the oil and remove it, the mixture goes into a device that heats it up, and separates the oil from the water. From there, the separated natural gas goes into a different chamber for burning or processing, and the water is sent to its own chamber.
Another technique that is used to separate water and gas from oil is called the hydrocyclone process. In this process, the mixture of oil, water, and natural gas is spun and the acceleration is used to separate the mixture. The gas is removed from the mixture, and the water is removed, and because of its salt content, it is not safe enough to be used as a resource. However, this water is then used to bring up excess oil from the reserve by being pushed back down and this forces it to push the oil back to the surface.
After the oils are processed and separated from water and natural gas, they are then taken to be refined. The job at the refinery is to sort the hydrocarbons within the crude, and make them better. The amount of hydro carbons determines what type of oil the crude will be. The main way to differentiate the hydrocarbons is by the difference in their boiling points. Generally, if a molecule contains more carbon atoms, then it will have a higher boiling point.
The first step of the refining process is to clean the crude, then heat it to the point where nothing but waxy hydrocarbons are there in liquid form. The mixed vapor of the hydrocarbon gets cooler as it rises through the distilling column. When a hydrocarbon is exposed to a temperature below its boiling point, it returns to a liquid. Liquid hydrocarbons are collected by stacks of trays, and are then sorted into different streams. Bubble caps are devices that are the main key to the functioning of a distilling column. Each tray allows vapor to rise through the tray but do not allow the collected liquid from falling into the tray below. When the vapor comes in contact with the liquid, the heavier carbons also become liquid.
During a system called cracking, the long carbon chains of heavy gas oil are broken down into shorter-chain hydrocarbons. Different kinds of cracking processes determines the combination of the end products. Hydrocracking yields kerosene, while fluid catalytic cracking yields diesel and gasoline.
In the reforming process, the hydrocarbons are put in through three different reactor chambers. The whole point of this process is to turn naphtha hydrocarbons into gasoline molecules. Other products of reforming are a high-octane gasoline component, which is reformate, and light gasses. The level of octane rating in reformate is important because it makes the difference in the octane level of gasoline. The main benefit of controlling the reformer, is that the rate of flow and temperature is also controlled, and the octane levels are able to be increased or decreased.
Treating the gasoline is another important part of the process. It is important to treat the gasoline correctly so that it does not become dirty. One main way to ensure that the gasoline stays pure, is by hydrotreating. In this process, hydrogen and hydrocarbons are heated together. After this they are put into a reaction chamber. These chambers contain a special catalyst. At the very moment that the hydrogen and hydrocarbons come in contact with this special catalyst, the sulfur is stripped from the hydrocarbons and turned into hydrogen sulfide.
The next step is to send the products off from the refinery. There are many pipelines that run underground all throughout the United States. The products are sent to the correct distribution center. Then small samples are removed to be studied in the sample house. The reason they are studied is because they need to be placed in the correct storage tank. The pipelines are cleaned and ensure that the products are moving quickly and safely due to devices called “pigs”. These “pigs” help pipelines stay free flowing and detect potential problems before they come about.
Batch management is a crucial part of collecting the products from the pipelines. Because many products are being sent in the pipelines, some of the products can mix when they are collected. This mix is called the “transmix”. When the products are collected, the transmix is collected separately. After this, it is sent back to the refinery for reprocessing. For very sensitive products, such as jet fuel, a “pig” will be inserted so that other products to not mix with it.
After this, the products are sent to distribution centers where they are picked up by truckers and sent to be used in their facilities. The trucks will have multiple storage tanks so that the products do not mix. Then the products are taken to be used in today’s society. In this case, the jet fuel, or kerosene, will be taken to the airport, so that the planes can use it to fly.
"Aviation Jet Fuel Information." Aviation Fuel. Computer Support Group, Inc. and CSGNetwork.com, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
"How Jet Fuel Is Produced." Bp.com. Bp, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
"Jet Fuel: An Introduction." Jet Fuel: An Introduction. Alglas, 1999. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
Ma, Xiaoliang, Lu Sun, and Chunshan Song. "A New Approach to Deep Desulfurization of Gasoline, Diesel Fuel and Jet Fuel by Selective Adsorption for Ultra-clean Fuels and for Fuel Cell Applications." A New Approach to Deep Desulfurization of Gasoline, Diesel Fuel and Jet Fuel by Selective Adsorption for Ultra-clean Fuels and for Fuel Cell Applications. Elsevier, 2002. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
"Mixture Effects of JP-8 Additives on the Dermal Disposition of Jet Fuel Components." Mixture Effects of JP-8 Additives on the Dermal Disposition of Jet Fuel Components. Elsevier, 2001. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
Muhammad, F., N. A. Monteiro-Riviere, and J. E. Riveire. "Comparative In Vivo Toxicity of Topical JP-8 Jet Fuel and Its Individual Hydrocarbon Components: Identification of Tridecane and Tetradecane as Key Constituents Responsible for Dermal Irritation." Toxicologic Pathology. Society of Toxicologic Pathology, 2016. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
"Reference Components of Jet Fuels: Kinetic Modeling and Experimental Results." Reference Components of Jet Fuels: Kinetic Modeling and Experimental Results. Elsevier, 2004. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
Song, Chunshan, Semih Eser, Harold H. Schobert, and Patrick G. Hatcher. "Pyrolytic Degradation Studies of a Coal-derived and a Petroleum-derived Aviation Jet Fuel." - Energy & Fuels (ACS Publications). American Chemical Society, 1993. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
Velu, S., Xiaoliang Ma, and Chunshan Song. "Selective Adsorption for Removing Sulfur from Jet Fuel over Zeolite-Based Adsorbents." - Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (ACS Publications). American Chemical Society, 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
"Why Do Jet Engines Use Kerosene Rather than Gasoline?" Fuel. Stack Exchange, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.
"Adventures in Energy." Adventures in Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
DES40A Research Report
Jet Fuel: Wastes
One of the most utmost concerns of modern society are the sheer amounts of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). On the topic of climate change, emphasis is often placed on the end result of fossil fuel use rather than the life cycle of the fuel itself. This not only causes a “one-way” thought approach to GHG cutbacks, but a misinterpretation of why fossil fuels have become so essential to “developed” nations of today. Understanding the life cycle of a certain type of fuel, aviation, can provide a broader interpretation of how energy use and waste has become convoluted and inseparable from our modern civilization.
To begin to understand what is being burned inside of that jet engine outside of your plane window, we must first go back millions of years into the past. It is well known that crude oil is formed from the decayed remains of dinosaur. However, this is a half-intellectual response. Crude oil is essentially a waste product in itself. This is because the origin of oil are microorganisms called diatoms that live in the oceans. These little creatures use the process of photosynthesis to take sunlight and turn it into an oil that they can use for energy. After these creatures die, they settle to the bottom of the ocean and form giant layers. After millions of years, intense pressure, and heat, these dead organisms turn into oil and are soaked up by porous rocks called reservoir rocks (limestones). Afterwards, the oil soaks out of the reservoirs and into oil traps which can then be extracted (1).
However, every step of the aviation fuel life cycle produces numerous amounts of waste products. Extraction of crude oil is not a two-step process of pumping and filling barrels. It is a complex process of primary, secondary, and enhanced recovery methods which all involve different processes and waste products. Crude oil acquisition begins with primary recovery. This is a process in which the oil trap is drilled, and the natural pressure inside provides the means of bringing oil to the surface (2). Once the natural pressure inside dwindles, secondary recovery is used in which waste water that is produced is put back into the oil trap to force more oil to the surface. Lastly, enhanced recovery uses the process of thermal, gas injection, and chemical recovery to bring even more oil to the surface. Thermal recovery involves the use of injected steam into the oil trap. The steam causes the oil to be less viscous and thus, flow better. The increased pressure due to the steam then raises the oil to the surface through the pipes. Gas injection recovery involves the injection of miscible or immiscible gas (or in simple terms, gases that will mix with the oil or won’t mix with the oil respectively). Gases that do mix with the oil are used to make the oil flow better. This is because the gas dissolves substances like carbon dioxide, methane, or propane that is in the oil. The gases that don’t mix with the oil are used to increase the pressure inside the trap, and thus, bring more oil to the surface. Finally, chemical recovery is when miscible polymers are mixed with water to be injected into the oil trap. Because the polymers that are mixed are dense, the solution pushed the oil out of the trap once it has been injected (2). These recovery methods produce numerous amounts of waste which provide the bulk of the waste products from extraction. On average, 98.2% of the wastes are oil-produced water, 1.7% are drilling fluids, and 0.1% is other wastes (3). The amount of water waste produced in the extraction process overall is estimated to be around 3.7 billion tons (by the Environmental Protection Agency) or 2.9 billion tons (by the American Petroleum Institute) in 1985. Many factors affect the amount of waste produced by extraction, which is influenced by the demand of oil. Thus, waste from oil extraction can also correlate with oil prices.
Once crude oil has been extracted, it is sent to refining plants to be made into jet fuel and other products. The process of jet fuel production coincides with that of other oil-based fuels due to the nature of refining. The process of refining involves boiling crude oil which separates out different types of fuels according to their characteristic boiling points (jet fuel has a boiling point of about 149 to 300 degrees Celsius) (9). The process that jet fuel undergoes is as follows: crude oil is first placed into a boiling tank, it is then distilled out using the process of vacuum distillation, the liquid streams are then hydrocracked (breaking large molecules, also used to increase gas production to meet gas usage goals) into jet fuel/diesel (8). The oil handling portion of production emits wastes such as sludge from the refining tanks and processing equipment, as well as sludge from the treatment of wastewater. Processing of oil can emit wastes such as catalysts that have been used up and must be disposed of, used chemicals, unstable byproducts, byproducts from waste treatment, and other material wastes. The operation of refineries can output wastes such as, construction/demolition waste, machine maintenance waste, product samples that have expired, used solvents which must then be cleaned up using rags and cleaning equipment, contaminated soil from spills, and depleted batteries/lamps/etc. Food provided for the employees can produce food scraps and waste grease used in cooking, as well as medical waste if there is an on-site hospital (7). As for the output of the entire worlds refining of crude oil, aviation fuel takes up about 6.3% of production (6). Furthermore, jet fuel production produces about 2.3 grams of carbon dioxide per mega joule of energy refined (5).
When it comes to the bulk of waste emissions, however, jet fuel usage is the prime candidate. For every kilogram of jet fuel burned, 3 kilograms of carbon dioxide are produced (10). Other GHG emissions include sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, soot, and other materials. Airplanes produce about 11% of the carbon dioxide emissions from U.S transportation, and 3% of the total U.S carbon dioxide emission (11). Nitrogen oxides from jet fuel use leads to the creation of ozone, which is a GHG. Furthermore, airplane emissions produce contrails which promote cirrus cloud formation that is attributed to increased atmospheric temperature. An example of airplane waste emissions can be seen in the statistical data for Finland in 2008. The average emissions for short distance (less than 463 km) domestic flights was (all data is in grams per kilometer): 0.49 for carbon monoxide, 0.030 for carbon monohydride, 1.1 for nitrogen oxides, 0.0018 for carbon tetra hydride, 0.0070 for dinitrogen monoxide, 0.083 for sulfur dioxide, and 257 for carbon dioxide (259 in a second report) (12). A similar trend shows for long distance (more than 463 km) domestic flights: 0.54 for carbon monoxide, 0.038 for carbon mono hydride, 0.67 for nitrogen oxides, 0.0012 for carbon tetra hydrides, 0.0048 for dinitrogen oxides, 0.056 for sulfur dioxides, and 177 for carbon dioxide (178 in a second report). As you can see, of all the waste emissions that are produced from jet fuel, carbon dioxides is the majority by far. As a side note, for the short distance domestic flights, the average fuel consumption was 82 grams per kilometer and 56 grams per kilometer for long distance domestic flights.
In the modern world, energy use has become so important to survival and material wealth that without fossil fuels, life as it is would not be possible. However, this is only the case with “developed” nations and does not necessarily apply to underdeveloped countries. Indeed, for example, the United States would not be able to function as effectively and robustly as it is now without the help of aviation. The immense capability to ship tons of goods and passengers around the globe in under 24 hours is a feat that can only be accomplished by cargo planes and airliners. What supports this massive trade structure is none other than the aviation fuel that powers each plane. No other type of fuel is energy dense and convenient enough to provide the vast amounts of energy that is needed to power a globalized world.
1. "Where Does Energy from Oil Come From?" Where Does Energy from Oil Come From? N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
2. "Adventures in Energy." Adventures in Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
3. Oceans And Environment Program (Howard Levenson). "Oils and Gas Wastes." Managing Industrial Solid Wastes From Manufacturing, Mining, Oil and Gas Production, and Utility Coal Combustion (Part 6 of 11) (n.d.): n. pag. Princeton University. Princeton University. Web.
4. 4. "PRODUCTION, IMPORT/EXPORT, USE, AND DISPOSAL." JET FUELS JP-4 AND JP-7 75 (n.d.): n. pag. ATSDR. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Web.
5. Elgowainy, Amgad, Jeongwoo Han, Hao Cai, Michael Wang, Grant S. Forman, and Vincent B. DiVita. "Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emission Intensity of Petroleum Products at U.S. Refineries."Pubs.acs.org. ACS Publications, n.d. Web.
6. "Technical Review on Jet Fuel Production." Technical Review on Jet Fuel Production. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
7. IPIECA. "Petroleum Refinery Waste Management and Minimization." IPIECA. IPIECA, n.d. Web.
8. Colwell, Ronald F. "Oil Refinery Discharges." Marine Pollution Bulletin 10.12 (1979): 344-45. Http://www.processengr.com/. Process. Web.
9. Chevron Phillips. "Specification for Jet B Wide-Cut Aviation Turbine Fuel." Jet A Aviation Fuel (n.d.): n. pag. Chevron Phillips. Chevron Phillips. Web.
10. "Fueling the Future of Flight | MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment." MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
11. Airplane Emissions. Center for Biological Diversity, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
12. Auvinen, Heidi. "Average Passenger Aircraft Emissions and Energy Consumption per Passenger Kilometre in Finland 2008." Lipasto. Lipasto, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.