AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: John Jackson greets a Christmas that he wasn’t sure he’d seeThe Edwards flight-test work is part of a Pentagon effort, started in 2001, called the Assured Fuel Initiative. The idea is to ensure an energy supply regardless of uncertainty in oil-producing countries or problems spurred by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina’s damage last year to Gulf Coast oil refineries. The Air Force alone consumes 3.2 billion gallons of fuel annually, accounting for about 80 percent of the federal government’s fuel usage. The Air Force wants to have half of its aviation fuel supply coming from alternative fuel sources by 2016. Engineers expect the Fischer-Tropsch fuel – named for the two German researchers who developed the process – will have the same performance as regular jet fuel but with less pollution because it contains less sulfur than regular fuels. The fuel the B-52 is using is being produced by an Oklahoma company called Syntroleum Corp., which has a plant that produces 70 barrels a day of Fischer-Tropsch fuels. EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – In a move toward reducing the U.S. military’s dependence on foreign oil, a B-52 bomber made a test flight Friday using only a synthetic diesel fuel. The flight is the latest in a series to validate that synthetic fuels can be used safely in military aircraft. The tests began in September, first using a 50-50 mixture of regular jet fuel and synthetic fuel in just two of the aircraft’s eight engines. The next test phase for the B-52 will be cold-weather testing to determine how well the fuel performs in extreme weather conditions, Air Force officials said. “The B-52 test flights at Edwards Air Force Base are the initial steps in the Air Force process to test and certify a synthetic blend of fuel for its aviation fleet,” Michael Wynne, secretary of the Air Force, said in a statement. “We are confident that the success of this flight will bring us one step closer to allowing a domestic source of synthetic fuel to accomplish the Air Force mission in the future.” Although the Air Force conducted the flight test with a fuel derived from natural gas, Syntroleum officials say they think the fuel can also be produced from coal – of which the United States has tremendous amounts. In addition to military applications, successful testing of the fuel could lead to opportunities with commercial airlines, program officials said. [email protected] (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!