How is jet fuel produced?
A complex combination of processes take place at the refinery:
- It starts with desalting which removes water and trace salts from crude oil to leave a hydrocarbon product for processing.
- Distillation follows which separates the raw materials into various streams defined by their boiling points.
- Distillate streams are processed to remove any unwanted components, such as acids, sulphurs and metals.
- Heavier crude oil fractions may also be hydrocracked to increase product yield.
- Finally, the streams are selectively blended to give the desired product.
- Additives are injected to improve fuel performance and stability to meet the different specification requirements.
- The freeze point is the main difference between Jet A and Jet A-1 grades. Jet A-1 freezes at less than or equal to -47 C whereas Jet A freezes at less than or equal to -40 C. The performance difference is important for certain routes. When flying from Washington to Tokyo over the polar route, for example, the airline would want to know the freeze point of the fuel to be used.