WD’s innovative fuel technology licensed to Mountain View firm

O’Neil: ’We invent -- that’s what NAWCWD does’

CHINA LAKE — Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Commander Rear Adm. Paul Sohl signed an exclusive patent license agreement between NAWCWD and Cobalt Technologies on April 8. The agreement includes a suite of inventions covering technology capable of converting butanol to drop-in jet fuels — technology developed by scientists at the Weapons Division.

NAWCWD’s alcohol-to-jet fuel team has developed and pursued patent protection for a series of catalytic reactions that effectively convert n-butanol to alternative fuels that, when blended with petroleum fuels, meet and exceed the strict Navy guidelines for JP-5 (jet fuel) and F-76 (ship fuel).

This technology is considered a commercially viable solution toward meeting Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ Great Green Fleet objective, which targets the production of eight million gallons of alternative fuels for fleet use by 2020.

Cobalt Technologies is a small business that produces bio-n-butanol from renewable feedstocks and the first industrial entity to license this technology. The company, based in Mountain View, recently received a Department of Energy award to develop this alternative fuel processing using NAWCWD’s licensed inventions.

NAWCWD Executive Director Scott O’Neil said he is pleased that the investment made in research and development has made the transition into a technology highly valued by industry.

“We’re using innovative R&D results to create intellectual property that’s now licensed to the commercial sector to create products that will ultimately benefit the warfighter.”

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, which tested the alternative fuels produced by NAWC-WD’s technology, also played a critical role in evaluating the technology.

“This whole Navy-industry collaboration presents an opportunity to bring a potentially cost-competitive route to alternative fuels from renewable resources,” said O’Neil.

“NAWCWD will continue to develop new and innovative strategies for fuels that include JP-5 and F-76 and may eventually expand to alternative and heavy fuels related to tactical weapons.

“We invent, that’s what NAWCWD does.”

Story First Published: 2013-05-29