USU researchers create jet fuel from juniper trees

Aug 15, 2023, 5:17 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2023, 10:44 am

LOGAN, Utah — Researchers at Utah State University believe they’ve come up with a clean-burning jet fuel made from juniper trees.

They are now trying to get the bio-fuel into the marketplace.

While it’s designed as jet fuel, researchers say it can be fractioned out to work in boats and even cars.

It was created at Utah State University’s Innovation Campus.

Foster Agblevor, a professor in USU’s Biological Engineering Department, started working on this idea 10 years ago, knowing that Utah has a supply of the invasive juniper tree.

They grind down the wood into a sawdust-like material and further process it down to a sort of a crude oil-type product before turning it into fuel.

“The other big advantage of using the biomass is that biomass doesn’t contain sulfur. The sulfur content is so minuscule that you don’t have to worry about it,” Agblevor said.

Utah State University's Innovation Laboratory

The juniper tree jet fuel was developed at the Utah State University Innovation Campus. (KSL TV)

He said the fuel can be produced from other wood products too, even leftover materials from sawmills making it possible to produce it virtually anywhere.

Agblevor added, “Look at this a positive way and how we can use it to create – solve the problem so Utah becomes part of the solution.

Creating the biofuel does leave behind a black sand-like byproduct that Agblevor said can also be used to help fertilize soil.

Now the researchers are searching for an investor willing to help mass produce the fuel and get it into the market.

Labs like the one here at the innovations campus are aimed at developing new products with the idea that they can eventually be used to improve our everyday lives.

Making energy more efficient is something Utah universities have been working on.

The USU Innovation Lab also invented a faster and smaller charger for electric vehicles.

The University of Utah recently made an agreement to work with the Idaho National Laboratory to advance the nation’s energy and security technology.

The Idaho National Laboratory is one of the leading centers for energy research and development, including biofuels and electric vehicles.

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USU researchers create jet fuel from juniper trees