A new study developed by scientists at NASA indicates that biofuels could help us diminish jet engine pollution. By implementing the use of biofuels, we will be able to reduce particle emissions by 50% by 70%. This will help airline economics as well as our planet’s environment. The new study is the result of an international research program conducted by NASA, involving agencies from Canada and Germany.
Biofuels reduce jet engine pollution and boost the engine performance
All the findings were published in a paper which was published in Nature magazine. Some data was gathered during flight tests developed in 2013 and 2014 close to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The data collected revealed the positive effects of alternative fuels on emissions, engine performance, and aircraft-designed condensation trail, at high altitudes flown by commercial aircraft.
These tests were part of the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrail and Cruise Emissions Study (ACCESS). Condensation trails are generated by the exhaust of a hot aircraft engine which mixes with the cold air at high altitudes, a few miles above the surface of our planet. They are manly composed of water which forms ice crystals. Scientists want to study persistent contrails due to the fact that they develop long-lasting clouds which usually do not form in the atmosphere.
NASA scientists analyzed the presence of contrails
These contrails are thought to be a factor which influences the environment of our planet. Bruce Anderson, an ACCESS project scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, claimed that soot emissions also contributed to the formation of contrails. As an outcome, the analyzed particle reductions which were measured during ACCESS should be seen as reduced crystal concentrations in condensation trails.
In turn, these will help diminish the impact of ice crystal concentrations on Terra’s environment. Contrails together with cirrus clouds which form with their help pose a great threat and have a bigger impact on Earth’s atmosphere compared to all the carbon dioxide emissions coming from all aircraft flown since the Wright brothers.
To perform these tests, NASA used their flying workhorse DC-8 which flew up to 40,000 feet while all its four engines burned a 50-50 mixture of renewable alternative fuel of hydro-processed esters and aviation fuel. The alternative fuel was developed from camelina plant oil. Three research aircraft took turns in flying behind the DC-8 at distances starting with 300 feet to over 20 miles. These airplanes were bound to measure emissions and to analyze contrail formation while these distinct fuels were burned.
The use of an alternative fuel will not only annihilate the high amount of jet engine pollution, but it will also help us reduce a large part of carbon dioxide emissions to protect our planet from the effects of climate change.
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