NASA study confirms biofuels reduce jet engine pollution


NASA said in a report released on March 15 that using biofuels to help power jet engines reduces particle emissions in their exhaust by as much as 50-70%.

The findings are the result of a cooperative international research program led by NASA and involving agencies from Germany and Canada, and are detailed in a study published in the journal Nature.

During flight tests in 2013 and 2014 near NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, data was collected on the effects of alternative fuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitudes flown by commercial airliners. The test series were part of the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study, or ACCESS.

The tests involved flying NASA’s workhorse DC-8 as high as 40,000ft while its four engines burned a 50-50 blend of aviation fuel and a renewable alternative fuel of hydro-processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil. A trio of research aircraft took turns flying behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300ft to more than 20 miles to take measurements on emissions and study contrail formation as the different fuels were burned.

The trailing aircraft included NASA’s HU-25C Guardian jet based at Langley, Virginia, a Falcon 20-E5 jet owned by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and a CT-133 jet provided by the National Research Council of Canada.

March 23, 2017

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