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Soybeans to Jet Fuel - 'We Are Very Close'

Commercialization is two to five years away, says North Dakota Sunrise director.

Your soybeans could soon be used to make jet fuel.

"We are very close to commercialization," says Wayne Seames, a University of North Dakota associate professor of chemical engineering who heads a research consortium that is spearheading the drive to produce a 2nd generation biofuel from crop oil.

Sunrise Renewable Co. - a spinoff from UND research - is expected to have a 350,000 gallon per year pilot plant up and running by the fall of this year.

The U.S. Air Force should complete testing of jet fuel made from soybeans and other crop oils by the end of 2009 or early in 2010.

"We are very close. We should have a commercial refinery within two to five years," Seames says.

The jet biofuel that Sunrise is making from crop oil is identical to jet fuel from petroleum. It means all current specifications, Seames says.

"The only difference is that it is made from a domestic, renewable resource."

The North Dakota Soybean Council has invested $317,000 in the multi million project over the past six years and is watching its progress closely and eagerly. Not only would the 50 billion jet fuel market be a new market for soybean oil, but there may be an opportunity for farmers to build crop-oil to jet fuel refineries.

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