Business aviation going green

Business aviation going green!

One of the recent trends in business aviation which is expected to become a greater part of aviation as a whole over the next couple years is going green – improving the aviation industry by lessening the impact that the industry has on nature and the environment of the planet. The biggest part of this movement towards going green involves making use of fuels which are composed of materials that have less of a negative impact on the environment and do not cause the same types of harmful pollution. Cleaner burning fuels include ethanol – which is being researched by organizations such as the Institute for Aerospace Research (IAR) in Canada and their Alternate Fuel Facility for Research and Development (AFFORD).

The Institute for Aerospace Research announced their current research into ethanol for jet engine fuel, as well as other kinds of environmentally friendly fuels, at the Paris Air Show in June 2007. The director of the IAR’s Gas Turbine Laboratory, Bob Hastings, stated that the Institute for Aerospace Research has a thirty year track record of research that has been successful in lowering emissions and improving fuel consumption in industrial turbines. Much of the work that the Institute for Aerospace Research has done in the past has been on stationary generators / power generators and they have developed more green friendly technology for companies such as Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.

Now researching fuels for jet engine turbines, the Institute for Aerospace Research is planning to do research into the suitability of ethanol mixes as well as fuels such as a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas as well as a syngas (synthetic gas) formed from hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Attention will be paid to both how well the fuels burn (what kind of efficiency they provide over the course of burning) and what kind of particulates they form. Particulates formed by the burning of gas may be detrimental to the continued operation of the engine even if they do not harm the environment, and if hard particulates are created by a gas they can produce corrosion in the turbines of a jet engine over time. The Institute for Aerospace Research will seek to find new fuel mixtures that provide both high efficiency and low levels of particulates so that jet engines will last longer.

In Spring of 2008 the Institute for Aerospace Research plans to work on testing ethanol mixtures, once the infrastructure to handle the new fuel has been developed. While many political and economic factors are expected to have an impact on the debate over more green friendly and economical fuels, estimates have been made that within about five years ethanol will begin to be introduced into the jet fuel mixtures used by the majority of aircraft, and in about ten years it will rise to become a significant percentage. While the ultimate goal to protect the environment calls for a complete switch to biofuels, that is seen as a goal for the far future, and the more recent future will see mixes of current fuels with more earth friendly fuels such as ethanol.

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