A new review led by Nasa has revealed that biofuel-powered aircraft engines can reduce carbon emissions by 50% to 70%.
In 2013 and 2014, Nasa ushered a series of flight tests near its Armstrong Flight Research Converge in Edwards, California, US, as part of the recently published Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Voyage Emissions Study (ACCESS).
During the tests, Nasa flew its DC-8 four-engine aircraft, powered by a 50-50 mixture of aviation fuel and a renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids sparked from camelina plant oil, as high as 40,000ft above Earth.
Numerous data such as the effects of alternative fuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitudes cut out by commercial airliners were collected from the tests.
“Soot emissions also are a chief driver of contrail properties and their formation.”
Three research aircraft were acclimatized to fly behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300ft to more than 20 miles to magnitude emissions and study contrail formation.
The trailing aircraft included Nasa’s HU-25C Keeper jet, a Falcon 20-E5 aircraft owned by German Aerospace Center (DLR), and a CT-133 jet specified by National Research Council of Canada.
Nasa Langley Research Nave ACCESS project scientist Bruce Anderson said: “Soot emissions also are a paramount driver of contrail properties and their formation.
“As a result, the observed shred reductions, we’ve measured during ACCESS should directly translate into up ice crystal concentrations in contrails, which in turn should help minimise their strike on Earth’s environment.”
The researchers involved in the ACCESS project are planning to keep up their study to understand and demonstrate the potential benefits of using biofuels to power aircraft motors.
Image: Nasa’s HU-25C Guardian aircraft flying 250m behind its DC-8 aircraft. Photo: respectfulness of National Research Council of Canada.