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Alternative Fuels

Syngas produced from coal and biomass gasification can produce liquid fuels for aviation through fuel synthesis using processes such as the Fischer-Tropsch Process. As alternative fuels are emerging in the market, it is important to understant their physical, chemical and combustion properties. We developed a high-temperature spherical combustion bomb facility to study the combustion characteristics and gas-phase kinetics of alternative fuels. With this facility, we measured flame speeds of various fuels (including n-decane, methylcyclohexane (MCH), Jet-A, S-8 (a Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuel), and synthetic gas at varying fuel-equivalence ratios, pressures, and temperatures. Additionally, we studied the fire safety properties of alternative aviation fuels. Under FAA’s goal of “1 billion gallons of sustainable drop-in jet fuel per year by 2018”, the purpose of this project was to understand the differences between jet-A and several alternative aviation fuels from the fire safety perspective, for example, concentration and temperature flammability limits, pool fire spread rate, and fire suppression characteristics. The results will help FAA determine the efficiency of currently utilized fire extinguishing agents at the airports and aircraft.