refers to any of several renewable fuels
under development by SwiftEnterprises, an Indiana-based company. Currently, the company is actively developing a 100LL aviation fuel replacement. The fuel was invented by John and Mary-Louise Rusek and Jonathon Ziulkowski in cooperation with Purdue University, and contains ingredients that can be derived from biomass
. It has attracted attention in the popular press as a potential renewable
alternative for automotive gasoline, as it is expected to be clean-burning and inexpensive at $1.80USD/gallon. In August, 2008, Swift Enterprise's cost per gallon to produce small batches of the aviation fuel in their laboratories was $60USD. In 2006, a sample of "Swift 142" performed as expected in an independant test, and has reportedly been submitted to the FAA
for further testing, and to the ASTM
for acceptance as a general aviation fuel.. Decisions from the FAA and ASTM are expected some time in 2009.
The 100LL problem
aviation fuel is the most commonly used general aviation fuel. It is to be phased out in 2010 because it contains lead. This phase-out has been called "one of modern GA's most pressing problems", because 70% of 100LL aviation fuel is used by aircraft that cannot use any of the existing alternatives.
- April 16, 2006: a sample of "Swift 142" was publicly tested by Oracle Airmotive Research & Development in the 100HP engine of a Bakeng Deuce aircraft at the Delphi Airport in Delphi, Indiana. The engine ran 10% longer on "Swift 142" than it had on an equal volume of 100LL fuel.
- July, 2007: Swift Enterprises files US and international patent applications for several Renewable Engine Fuels, including a "High Octane AvGas" and a "100LL Replacement".
- November 2007: Delphi Airport Manager Brian Stirm announced the "start-up of Carroll County Swift Development Inc."
- July 9, 2008: the FAA was testing fuel developed by Swift Enterprises, and "approval for general aviation use could be obtained within a year", according to Delphi Municipal Airport manager Brian Stirm.
- May, 2008: Airport manager Brian Stirm announces that Swift intends to secure permits for building a "showcase facility",
- June 2008: Swift begins working with the Mayor of Delphi and the Delphi Municipal Airport board on plans for a 2,500-square-foot pilot plant to be built at the Delphi Municipal Airport in Indiana, with an expected output of 2,000 gallons per day.
- July 2008: Representatives of Swift spoke at the airport board meeting, and were scheduled to present a rendering of the proposed construction at the August 28, 2008 meeting.
Swift enterprises has formulas for several fuels in its patent application.
Swift Enterprises Claims
Claims made in Swift Enterprise' press releases and on their website:
- SwiftFuel does not contain lead
- Seamless replacement of 100LL (no engine modifications)
- 15-25% increase in range over 100LL (no oxygenates)
- 20% drop in pollutants over the current 100LL fuel
- 15% more volumetric energy than 100LL (SwiftFuel has higher energy content per gallon than petroleum)
- No need for stabilizers or additives
- Visitors may tour the facility in Purdue's Research Park
Claims made in other media:
- SwiftFuel meets or exceeds the standards for aviation fuel as verified by nationally recognized laboratories.
- Swift Enterprise's pilot plant will use ethanol produced from sorghum and other regionally-available bio mass material.
- The FAA has taken delivery of 150 gallons of SwiftFuel and begun a series of power-performance evaluations in June 2008.
- The FAA has completed initial testing of SwiftFuel, found that it performed "two horsepower lower at full throttle than [100LL]", and was expected to release a public report in early August, 2008.
- Swift has applied to the ASTM to be considered a candidate fuel at a December 2008 meeting, and is working toward final approval in June 2009.
Claims that have not been traced directly back to Swift Enterprises:
- SwiftFuel has an octane rating of 104.
- SwiftFuel is more compatible with existing gasoline infrastructure than ethanol
- SwiftFuel produces fewer harmful emissions than gasoline
- Ethanol made from sorghum will allow production of six times the energy per acre than corn, reducing the "food vs fuel" trade-off which biofuels are often criticized over.
Apparent Problems with Claims
- The Sorghum claims are difficult to substantiate. Bushel for bushel, corn and sorghum produce the same volume of ethanol. An AP article claims that sorghum-sap-based ethanol has 4 times the energy yield as corn-based ethanol, but is on par with sugar-cane. The sap could be used for ethanol while the grain is used for food.
- There is no building permit issued for the pilot plant.
- The FAA has not published any report on SwiftFuel testing.
- The ASTM has not posted any document concerning SwiftFuel.
More About Swift Enterprises
- John Rusek, one of the inventors of SwiftFuel, is an Adjunct professor at Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His areas of study include using peroxides as fuels. He once gave a talk entitled "Hydrogen Peroxide for Propulsion and Power Applications: A Swift Perspective".
- Swift Enterprises has multiple patents and patent applications, one for "Renewable Engine Fuel" which is "comprised of one or more low carbon number esters, one or more pentosan-derivable furans, one or more aromatic hydrocarbon, one or more C4-C10 straight chain alkanes derivable from polysaccharides, and one or more bio-oils. In addition, the fuel may contain triethanolamine.".