A LITTLE SOY OIL can go a long way. Agricultural Research Service scientists report that after winterizing, biodiesel fuel that contains soy oil can be safely blended with noncommercial jet fuel used in military aircraft. The ultimate payoff will be cleaner air and larger profits for U.S. soybean growers.

In laboratory studies, ARS chemical engineer Robert O. Dunn added small amounts of methyl soyate (SME) — esters from fatty acids of soybean oil — with noncommercial jet fuel (JP-8). Dunn has developed a three-step winterization process for biodiesel fuel that involves mixing in additives, chilling the fuel and filtering out solids.

The most promising aspect of this work: Winterized SME did not form solid particles when exposed to a range of slightly below zero to -52 degrees F in the laboratory.