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Bio Aviation Fuels

Bio Aviation Fuels

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Published by akgupta1946

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Published by: akgupta1946 on Mar 06, 2011
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03/06/2011

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Bio Aviation Fuels
Introduction
The Dramatic increase in fuel prices in recent years has caused concern inaviation industry. The current aviation fuel is produced from crude oil. Thediscovery of new crude oil resources has become a rarity; however, the globaldemand for aviation fuel is increasing at a faster rate. This has awakened theaviation industry and supply and prices of aviation fuel has become a topic of debate involving ATAG, stakeholders, Governments, industry and ResearchInstitutions.Due to low prices, availability and technical advantages, long life time and highcapital investment in aircrafts, kerosene derived from crude oil is considered tobe the preferred aviation fuel. This trend is likely to continue for another 2-3decades. Among the technical advantages kerosene has good flowcharacteristics – viscosity and freeze point, clear combustion, low luminosity,good energy density and good thermal stability.The concerns about rising prices, energy security, and aviation emissions haveled to look into alternative fuels. The potential of alternative fuel in aviation is nota new concept. Early jet engines were developed using hydrogen as fuel. Due tothe requirements for aircraft to use a fuel with high energy content per weight andper volume, kerosene has become a standard aviation fuel in 1970’s syntheticaviation fuels based on shale oil, tar sands, and coal liquids were investigated,but their prohibitive cost became the main hurdle in their commercialization. In1980’s biofuels such as ethanol, esters of fatty acids were also mooted for use asaviation fuels, but could not be pursued due to their high cost and low energydensity.The main challenges that an alternative aviation fuel must address include:
1.
Reducing environment impact. Aviation industry consumes 2% of all fossilfuels burnt i.e. about 12% of total fuel consumption of entire transportsector. CO2 emission is only about 3% of total CO2 generated by thetransport sector, but its environment impact is under spot light.2. Reducing operating costs.3. Improving availability and diverse supply options.
4.
Meeting specifications/need of the aircraft industry.
5.
Safety norms which are becoming more and more stringent with the rise of aviation industry.
 
The alternative fuels for aviation industry may also face several obstacles/problems, which include:
1.
Lead time for fuel and additive development are long ~ 10 years.2. Airlines do not like aircraft that needs special fuel.
3.
Little incentive to develop aircraft/engines running on special highperformance or alternative fuel.
4.
Local alternative fuel potion common on ground transportation fuels onlyapplicable to general aviation.5. Hydrogen, the cleanest fuel, would require completely new aircraft andinfrastructure. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) in its Report “Aviation andGlobal Atmosphere 1999 have reported the impact of emissions from civilaviation. This Report has also commented “Alternative fuels may appear environmentally friendly but technical problems occur in adapting the fuel tocurrent aircraft design and aviation infrastructure.”This report deals with the alternative aviation fuel options, biofuels in particular,and their role in future aviation industry and outline the R &D needs for thedevelopment of bio aviation fuels.
Alternative Aviation fuel options:
There are number of alternative fuel potions for aviation, these can be classifiedas follows:
1.
Synthetic liquid fuels
– derived from coal, natural gas, or biomass. Itsometimes also refer to fuels derived from other solids such as shaleoil, tar sand, waste plastics etc.
2.
Bio aviation fuels
Fatty acid esters (biodiesel) derived fromagricultural or wild oil crops like soya, palm, jatropha, algae etc.
3.
Other oxygenates
– methanol, ethanol
4.
Hydrogen
– obtained from fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gasand coal, biomass, and water etc.
 
5.
Biomethane
methane from agricultural waste, forest waste andMunicipal solid waste (MSW) etc.
6. Nuclear 
Renewable Aviation Fuels:
Biofuels (Biodiesel):
Biodiesel (mono-alkyl esters of fatty acids) can be produced by transesterificationof glycerides obtained from vegetable oils, waste oil products and algae or esterification of fatty acids with methanol. Biodiesel is a partial substitute for kerosene. It is expected to reduce fuel cycle carbon emissions and is readilybiodegradable.There several disadvantages with the use of biodiesel as aviation fuel. Theseinclude poor low temperature properties (high cloud and pour points), oxidationstability, and water penetration. Biodiesel has potential for use in blends withkerosene as aviation fuel. The cost is however high as compared to currentcrude oil based jet fuels.
Methanol:
Methanol is not a suitable jet fuel. Its energy density is too low in either mass or volume terms. There is also an emissions problem with methanol as it producesformaldehyde at idle or low power, thus creating health hazards to the groundstaff at airports. Due to its low flash point (18
o
C) it is not safe. For JP-8 theminimum requirement of flash point is 38
o
C.
Ethanol:
Ethanol due to its similar properties as methanol is also unsuitable for use asaviation fuel. Its flash point is even lower than methanol.
Synthetic liquid fuels:
Synthetic liquid fuels, known as Fischer-Tropsch Kerosene (FT-fuel) is producedfrom various carboniferous including biomass via syn gas. To date most researchon FT-Fuels has been done by the South African Company SASOL.

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