NASA says biofuels could massively reduce jet engine particles

NASA-led study confirms that aviation biofuels can be a boon for the environment

Researchers plan on continuing these studies to understand and demonstrate the potential benefits of replacing current fuels in aircraft with biofuels.

A study from NASA has found that jet engines running on biofuels can reduce particle emissions by between 50 and 70 per cent.

To investigate the effects of using biofuels, NASA and agencies in Germany and Canada ran a series of tests as part of the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study (somehow shortened to ACCESS).

Aviation has a large impact on the environment.

The study published in journal Nature, comes as a result of a cooperative global research program led by NASA and involving agencies from Germany and Canada.

On the BBC World Service, he told the Science in Action programme that, "You'll then see those lines spread and form cirrus clouds that weren't there before the plane glide through the airspace". It's primarily made of water ice crystals, although many conspiracy theorists refer to contrails as "chemtrails" and claim these containing anything from fluoride to mind-control chemicals intentionally dumped by the government. The ACCESS tests found that the biofuel mix reduced particle emissions by between 50 and 70 percent, which is good news not just for Carbon dioxide air pollution, but for cutting back the likelihood that contrails will form.

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As it turns out, though, those contrails "create long-lasting, and sometimes extensive, clouds that would not normally form in the atmosphere, and are believed to be a factor in influencing Earth's environment", according to NASA.

"Soot emissions are also a major driver of contrail properties and their formation", said Bruce Anderson, a scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The results from research aircraft that sampled the exhaust of engines onboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft as they burned conventional Jet A fuel and a 50:50 (by volume) blend of Jet A fuel and a biofuel derived from Camelina oil.

A trio of research aircraft took turns flying behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 20 miles to take measurements on emissions and study contrail formation as the different fuels were burned.

Rich Moore, lead author, added that this was the first time that the amount of soot particles emitted by jet engines was quantified. The work was supported by research programs at NASA, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Transport Canada and the National Research Council Canada.

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