The EERC's National Alternative Fuels Center®
builds collaborative relationships with industry to
overcome technical, economic, and social barriers to commercial utilization of alternative
Established initially in 1988 as the NAFC through
the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Alternative
Fuels Center is committed to:
- Formulating, demonstrating, and commercializing clean-burning coal
and bio-based fuels.
- Improving production processes for ethanol and biodiesel from traditional
and lower-value feedstocks.
- Developing value-added products and bio-based chemicals from agricultural
- Working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and
aviation industry to demonstrate aviation-grade ethanol.
- Blending ethanol and biodiesel with aviation fuels to produce certified
- Improving performance and emissions of ethanol- and biodiesel-blended
gasoline and diesel fuels.
- Determining fuel use effects on health and the environment.
The EERC has established a strong network of technical expertise to advance alternative
fuels production, blending, demonstration, and commercialization. Recent activities
- Development and demonstration of the first-ever 100% renewable fuel from crop oils and algae.
- Demonstration of innovative coal- and biomass-to-fuel technologies.
- Renewable fuel process development, demonstration, and economic assessment.
Partnerships, Education, and Outreach
NAFC has coordinated activities with more than 40 government, research, and
industrial partners. It represents the state of North Dakota in the multistate Governors’
Biofuel Coalition (GBC).
First to Produce 100% Renewable Jet Fuel
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and several other corporate partners,
the EERC was the first to produce a domestic 100% renewable jet fuel from several
varieties of vegetable oil and algae oil. An innovative technology concept that
uses catalytic conversion processing will eliminate the need for high-energy processing.
The resulting fuel meets all specifications for a strategic tactical military fuel
that can surpass commercial specifications for quality and cost.
The EERC has developed gasification technologies to convert coal and other alternative
feedstocks such as municipal solid wastes and cellulosic biomass to liquid fuels.
Several pilot-scale gasification systems which provide unique demonstration capabilities
are currently in operation at the EERC. These systems are equipped with all necessary
support systems for testing a variety of advanced concepts, including hot-gas cleanup,
hydrogen production, and Fischer–Tropsch liquid fuels production.
Tactical Fuels for the U.S. Military
The EERC is working to develop advanced tactical fuels for the U.S. military, which
includes developing JP-8 and other liquid fuels from alternative feedstocks. JP-8
is the U.S. military’s choice for a single-fuel concept which significantly enhances
the overall logistics of military operations in both times of peace and war. The
EERC is also working on producing high-pressure, on-demand hydrogen from JP-8 and
other available fuel feedstocks for use in standard refueling platforms or mobile
applications for battlefield scenarios.
The EERC developed a technology with Syntec Biofuel, Inc. (Syntec), to convert a
wide variety of biomass and waste into biobutanol. The core process utilizes Syntec’s
high-performance catalyst technology in conjunction with an upgrading process exclusively
licensed from the EERC Foundation
. Butanol has a high purity and energy level and
can be used in a variety of ways, including as a fuel in internal combustion engines.
Renewable Fertilizer Production
The EERC developed an electrochemical process for producing urea and other nitrogen-based
fertilizers. The process will eliminate the use of natural gas as a requirement
for fertilizer production by using electricity generated from the wind instead of
fossil fuel. This is a major opportunity for extracting value from wind energy without
the need for constructing expensive and hard-to-permit electricity transmission
The EERC developed a draft ASTM International (ASTM) specification for the first-ever aviation-grade
ethanol (AGE) and presented the specification for initial ASTM review. This response
to the FAA request was developed in collaboration with members of the ASTM Ethanol
Aviation Fuel Development Task Force and the University of North Dakota Odegard
School of Aerospace Sciences. AGE is an ethanol-based alternative to lead-containing
Fuel Effects on Human Health
In partnership with the American Lung Association of Minnesota (ALAMN) and Flint
Hills Resources, NAFC analyzed the carbon dioxide emission impact of switching
from gasoline to E85, which comprises 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, revealing positive
impacts advantageous to human health. These data were publicized by ALAMN to promote
E85 utilization and contributed to increased Minnesota E85 consumption sixfold in