US Warplanes Can Fly Faster, Carry Additional Weapons Load Using Advanced Fuels and Biofuels: New Data
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) New tests conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have revealed that US warplanes are capable of flying faster and carry more payload on missions, when flying with synthetic fuels, including biofuels, compared to conventional military jet fuels made from petroleum.
The increased performance of biofuels could allow, for example, a fully loaded F/A-18 SuperHornet supersonic fighter to carry one additional missile during military operations.
According to Air Force special advisor on energy and fuels, Omar Mendoza, the Pentagon has authorized additional testing with General Electric, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney to confirm the findings from the Air Force Research Laboratory, based at Wright Patterson AFB, near Dayton, Ohio.
Mendoza added that, if the results seen at the extensive Wright-Patterson engine testing labs are confirmed, outcomes could include consideration of next generation engines that can take full operational advantage of the breakthrough in warplane performance.
…Mendoza said that the Wright-Patterson tests had shown that renewable fuels were lowering engine temperatures by 135 degrees, owing to absence of impurities found in conventional fossil fuels.
When those impurities burn, he explained, it causes high temperatures to radiate throughout the engine, causing an acceleration in metal fatigue. “At the temperatures that military jet engine perform at, an additional 25 degrees in temperature can shorten the life of the engine by half,” Mendoza said. He added that the preliminary data showed that engine parts could last up to 10 times longer, if the new high performance fuels were employed in place of conventional fossil fuels.
…He added that the tests showed that drop-in renewable fuels had, for the same volume, 7 percent less mass, which lowered the weight of the plane when fully fueled, and made it possible for the jets to fly faster, farther, or carry more payload.
…(Imperium Renewables CEO John Plaza) “Second, the Air Force is doing so much testing on coal to liquid fuels that I would be surprised if this data didn’t also apply to those technologies, which also produce a synthetic fuel.”
…“Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene is a subset of conventional jet fuel but without the aromatics and most of the cycloparaffins,” explained Robert Freerks of RLF Enterprises, the father of SPK fuels dating back to 1999, when he worked for Syntroleum.
“There is nothing new in the fuel, only the lack of some things that are found in conventional fuels. The major difference is the aromatics content, which impacts several performance attributes of the fuel including net heat content, temperature of combustion (and radiant heat release), density, and conductivity.
“SPK have more hydrogen and have less energy per volume, but the lighter SPK blend component has more energy per mass. The difference is about 4%. Thus if a plane is maxed out on cargo and limited in mass of fuel it can carry, it will have more energy on board and can fly further on that fuel. Unlike cars and truck, aircraft must lift the mass of fuel they carry and expend energy doing so. Thus the lighter SPK blended fuels save some fuel consumption simply because they are lighter. As probably 95% of all flights are not volume limited, this is an instant fuel savings of roughly 2%.
…Conversely, Chinese authorities have sharply increased their high performance and renewable fuel production targets, at the same time as China is sharply increasing its naval forces, and was reported this past week to have undertaken construction of at least two aircraft carriers, after acquiring its first carrier from Ukraine last year.
As Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times back in 2010, “The Chinese military is seeking to project naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific, where the United States Navy has long reigned as the dominant force, …
…(Mendoza),“Take for example the European air theater. British aircraft were struggling to overcome German fighters, because they both ran on 87 octane jet fuel. Then, the US introduced the 100-octane fuel, which allowed the Spitfire to fly faster and higher, because of performance advantages in the fuel.” READ MORE and MORE (Biofuels Digest re: Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet)