Positive Results for Biojet

NASA tests renewable fuel blends in a DC-8
By Erin Voegele | May 20, 2011

A team of researchers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center recently tested renewable jet fuel in a DC-8 aircraft. According to information released by the administration, the biobased jet fuel used in the test was manufactured from chicken and beef tallow. Information released by NASA states that the research team ran one engine using hydrotreated renewable jet fuel (HRJ), another using JP-8, and a third using a 50/50 blend of the two fuels.

The testing, referred to as the Alternative Aviation Fuels Experiment, occurred with the plane on the ground. The research team evaluated both the fuel’s performance and resulting emissions. According to NASA, the evaluation included measurements of nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions. Data released by the organization notes that black carbon emissions were 90 percent less at idle in the engine that burned the HRJ, and nearly 60 percent less at takeoff thrust. According to Bruce Anderson, the experiment’s chief scientist, the biofuel also produce significantly lower sulfate, organic aerosol, and hazardous emissions than the standard, fossil-based jet fuel.

“The test results seem to support the idea that biofuels for jet engines are indeed cleaner-burning, and release fewer pollutants into the air. That benefits us all,” says Ruben Del Rosario, a researcher at NASA’s Glenn Research Station in Ohio who manages the organization’s Subsonic Fixed Wing Project, which sponsored the experiment through the Fundamental Aeronautics Program. 

“NASA Dryden was excited to contribute to the study of alternative fuels for aviation use,” says Frank Cutler, NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory project manager in a release issued by NASA. “The results of these tests will tell us a lot about emission generated by modern turbine aircraft engines using these fuels.”  —Erin Voegele