Jet fuel is primarily made from crude oil, which is commonly called liquid petroleum. However, jet fuel can also originate from kerogen or petroleum solids, materials found in shale that are converted by heat to shale oil.
Typically, jet fuel is created by blending and refining various products, like naphtha, gasoline, and kerosene, to meet specific military or commercial specifications.
Once jet fuels are made, they are transported through pipelines to terminals where additional products, such as metal deactivators, electrical conducting additives, and fuel system icing inhibitors are added.
Keep reading to learn more about jet fuel composition.
HOW IS JET FUEL MADE?
It takes a series of complex processes to produce jet fuel from crude oil. These steps include:
- Once in the refinery, crude oil is placed into a fractioning column, where the crude oil is separated into its major components.
- The crude oil is heated to 400 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the crude oil vaporizes and rises towards the top of the fractioning column.
- The temperature inside the fractioning column decreases the closer the gaseous products get to the top. As each crude oil component reaches its boiling point, they liquidize.
- Heating oil and diesel separate around 360 degrees Celsius.
- Kerosene and petroleum liquidize at 250 degrees Celsius.
- At 80 degrees Celsius, methane, propane, butane, and ethane condense at the top of the column.
- The liquid components are drained off at the side of the fractioning column.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF JET FUEL
While most jet fuels are made from crude oil, different additives are used to make different types of jet fuel.
In civil aviation, piolets most commonly use Jet A (used only in the U.S.) and Jet A-1. The only difference between these two types of jet fuels is their freezing points.
Jet fuel can also be manufactured in synthetic and CO2-neutral forms, but these are around twice to three times more expensive to produce than regular jet fuel.
These alternative jet fuels can be blended with and used in place of conventional jet fuels. These are called “drop-in” fuels. They are still subject to the same high safety and quality requirements as pure, regular jet fuel, meaning they’re immediately ready for use and require no modification to the aircraft or the fueling process.
There is also jet fuel called Jet B. This fuel is used in frigid climates because it has a freezing point of -60 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, it is highly flammable and challenging to handle. So, most operators avoid it except for military or specific commercial missions.
JET FUEL PRICES
On average, per every hour you burn jet fuel, you’re losing between $500 and $2,000.
The cost to fill a plane depends on what type of plane you’re flying:
- Small private plane – $250-$400
- Private Jet – $2,000-$30,000
- Commercial airliner – $20,000-$250,000
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