News, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engine aircraft.
In 1998, one diesel engine flew on a converted airplane for the first time since 1945. Today, close to 4,000 singles and twins are flying. This is the beginning of a worldwide trend which will eventually allow a rebirth of the piston-engined aircraft, around new specs and new missions.
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News of June 24, 2010
AOPA announcement - Association leaders meet, call for extension on avgas
Leaders from the general aviation and petroleum industries met recently, AOPA says on June 6, and formed a coalition to work together and develop a process to reduce lead emissions from GA aircraft, balancing environmental benefit with aviation safety, technical feasibility, and impact upon the GA industry. The group wants to ensure that a stable aviation fuel supply exists in the near term while the long-term solution is identified, certified, and implemented. At this stage, all potential solutions, including lower octane fuels, higher octane candidates, and chemical or bio additives, remain possible options. The coalition’s first meeting in May was attended by decision-makers, including several of the groups’ CEOs, from AOPA, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA). As its first action, the coalition has requested a 120-day extension to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking in order to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to the agency as possible. The extension will allow time to gather and evaluate data from the Coordinating Research Council on an ultra-low-lead fuel as a possible near-term interim solution, and to provide aircraft and engine manufacturers time to further assess the technical, economic, safety, and performance impacts associated with the possibility of moving to an unleaded fuel in the long term. “The reduction of lead emissions from general aviation aircraft is a significant issue for AOPA and the industry,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “We are working to develop a solution that takes into consideration safety, economics, and environmental concerns, and the creation of this coalition is an important step along that path.” The aviation and petroleum industries have been working diligently for two decades to develop a seamless, high-octane replacement unleaded avgas that meets the requirements of the entire GA fleet. To date, no such fuel has been proven to be available or viable, although work continues in this direction. The collaborative program being undertaken by this group will evaluate the body of research that has been conducted over the past 20 years and will further evaluate the work currently being performed in order to arrive at the best possible solution. The organizations participating in this coalition are committed to working with the EPA, the FAA, and the petroleum and aviation industries. The regulatory affairs staff from all of the associations are continuing their coordination with government agencies on the myriad of technical, safety, logistical, and economic issues. It is critical that aircraft owners and fuel distributors have sufficient time and information to comply with a realistic standard to reduce lead emissions from GA aircraft.
DieselAir Comment: Our readers know that we are following progress on defining and certifying a lead-free gasoline which could, in the U. S., substitute to 100LL Avgas. (I say in the U. S., because elsewhere aviation already began moving away from 100LL some time ago depending on the countries, and the U. S. remains today by far the biggest 100LL consumer.) Let us suppose that someone does market such a fuel. 100LL is still available, remember, because aviation fuel suppliers accept to carry it besides Jetfuel, despite the tiny amount Avgas represents today as a market (0.5% of the motor fuel market). In such small volumes, Avgas of any nature is costly to ship, store and distribute. It is public knowledge now that a lead-free 100 Octane gasoline interests only the 30% of airplanes which consume 70% of it today are modern machines, and have high compression, turbocharged engines demanding such Octane rating. Their owners can afford either paying more for a lead-free 100 Octane Avgas (100NEL for no-ethanol, no-lead, and I exclude in their case a downgrade of their engine to fly 94 Octane). A 100NEL would allow them to wait a few years extra. AOPA is fulfilling its mission when lobbying for these few years to last as long as possible.
But the writing is on the wall:
100NEL is probably possible. During WW2, Germany produced a synthetic Avgas of 130 Octane, but it was leaded. They used coal gasification and synthesis through the Fischer-Tropsch Process which is alive and kicking today in several parts of the world. Anti-knock lead substitutes (MTBE, ETBE, iso-octane, toluene and also ethanol) are well known. Some are damaging to health, some to the engine, and some to the environment. The ideal 100NEL would come without additives. It would be highly synthetic, meaning that its formulation would require several steps avoiding any low Octane constituent. The higher its cost, the lower will be its market, to the point where one can wonder if it is worthwhile pursuing.
But I say it is possible because, in the heydays of piston-engined high compression aviation when 130 and even 150 Octane fuels were used, and when oil companies had huge R&D teams to address all fuel quality & performance issues, no one had any motivation to look for a lead-free fuel: EPA wasn’t there. The small demand for 100NEL comes very late, when technical resources to address them are as tiny as the market compared with other type of fuels, notably the huge arena of alternative biofuels and synfuels that will make us, eventually, independent from petroleum as a natural resource. What with gasoline vendors refusing to subsidize Avgas anymore, 100NEL will be pricey.
I am therefore more convinced than ever that the long term solution is the diesel engine, or compression-ignition if you prefer, using Jetfuel; said Jetfuel being obtained from petroleum and coal, later from coal and biofuels, and later...
Your comments are welcome.
posted at 9:49 AM
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Every month: news, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engines aircrafts between 130 and 400 HP: Retrofitting a diesel engine to run on Jetfuel or Kerosene, reduce Gallons/Hour by some 30%, eliminate ignition systems (magnetos, spark plugs) and their problems, eliminate mixture control, increase TBO to 2,400-3,000 hours, increase performance between 6,000 and 12,500 ft., and drastically reduce Operating Costs.
The letter is intended for piston engines aircraft owners, manufacturers, fleet operators and FBOs, re-manufacturers of engines for these aircrafts, manufacturers of engine components and ancillaries, and all professionals acting in decisions of engine exchange or refitting at TBO, in North and South America, Pacific Rim, African continent, and all parts of the world were Avgas, Mogas, Kerosene and Jetfuel are available.
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