Water Footprint Fischer Tropsch Aviation Fuel Kerosene biofuel


The recent spikes in oil prices have spurred an already bullish demand on biofuels as a source of alternative energy. However, the unprecedented price records set simultaneously by staple food have raised high concerns about potential impacts of biofuels on the global agricultural landscape as fuel and food markets are being inextricably coupled. The revival of interest in the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process comes into full force since it offers a promising way to produce carbon-neutral liquid fuels which are readily usable with today's existing infrastructure. The FT synthesis offers the possibility of using crop waste as feedstock instead of the crop itself thus avoiding the risk of further straining water and land resources while helping to alleviate the national energy bill and to achieve independence from foreign oil. As the airline industry is the hardest-hit sector with fuel jumping ahead of labor as the primary cost item, this thesis investigates the prospects of the FT process to transform sugar cane waste (namely bagasse, tops and green leaves) and landfill gas in order to produce kerosene (C12H26) as jet fuel for civil aviation. Established chemical correlations and thermodynamics of chemical reactions are used to assess the water footprint inherent to kerosene production using the above feedstocks at optimal conditions of temperature, pressure, catalyst and reactor type. It has been estimated that 9 to 19 gallons of water are needed for every gallon of kerosene produced. In addition, for the case of sugar cane, less land area per unit energy is required compared to ethanol production since all non-food waste of the plant can be used to produce FT fuel as opposed to ethanol which would utilize only the sugar (food) portion of the plant. This translates into a much lower water footprint for irrigation and consequently a lower water footprint overall.


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Graduation Date



Kapat, Jayanta S.


Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering








Release Date

December 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)