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NASA Study Reveals Using Biofuels Lessen Pollution Caused By Jet Engines
20 March 2017, 05:42 | Bernard Bryant
NASA-led study confirms that aviation biofuels can be a boon for the environment
The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study includes findings from a cooperative worldwide research program that involved agencies from Germany and Canada, NASA said Thursday.
Data was gathered from test flights in 2013 and 2014, looking at the impact of alternative fuels on the performance of engines, emissions, and "aircraft-generated contrails" seen at altitudes that commercial airliners fly at. So yes, biofuels are, in fact, better for the environment than their fossil fuel alternatives.
Dr. Moore's team describes its research in this week's edition of the journal Nature.
Nasa Langley Research Centre ACCESS project scientist Bruce Anderson said: "Soot emissions also are a major driver of contrail properties and their formation".
The study determined that particle emissions were reduced by 50 to 70 percent at cruise conditions, compared with the emissions from straight Jet A fuel.
Previous studies on the effect of jet fuel had been conducted by locking a jet down and powering up its engines, but scientist wanted to see how the particles interacted with the far colder air at cruising altitudes between 30,000 and 40,000 feet. They are primarily composed of water in the form of ice crystals.
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The DC-8's four engines burned either JP-8 jet fuel or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
According to the space agency, persistent contrails were of interest they created long-lasting, and sometimes huge, clouds that could not otherwise form in the atmosphere.
The scale to which jet engines on airlines pollute our planet could be drastically reduced by as much as 70pc if biofuels become the norm, according to a new study.
Three research aircraft were used to fly behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300ft to more than 20 miles to measure emissions and study contrail formation.
Rich Moore, lead author, added that this was the first time that the amount of soot particles emitted by jet engines was quantified. As well as NASA's HU-25C Guardian jet, the measurements were taken by 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. NASA is now developing an experimental plane in which it hopes to demonstrate, among its capabilities, low-noise supersonic flight powered by biofuel.
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