New aviation fuel additive could cut emissions

A commercial airline is to begin trials of a new jet fuel performance-enhancing additive aimed at improving fuel efficiency, lowering maintenance costs, and cutting exhaust emissions.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, together with Shell Aviation and chemicals company BetzDearborn, have signed an agreement to begin trials of the fuel additive, a Shell spokesperson told edie. The additive was designed during a US Air Force research and development programme to develop a fuel with enhanced thermal stability. Such an improvement significantly reduce the tendency of the fuel to degrade and to form deposits, lacquers and coke in the hot areas of the engine fuel system, promoting more efficient combustion. The technology is similar to that which has already been used in automotive fuel additives for a number of years, say the companies.

“We know that commercial aviation is going to be following this trial very closely because of the industry’s need to hold down operating and maintenance costs while improving aircraft performance,” said Craig Rogerson, Vice President and General Manager of BetzDearborn. “It represents an exciting opportunity for the fuel additive market.”

The trial involves two KLM Boeing 747-400 aircraft, and is expected to last for 12 months. During this time, KLM will evaluate the effects of the additive on aircraft performance, and will conduct periodic inspections of the combustion chambers and fuel nozzles for an increase in cleanliness.

“KLM is pleased to be the first commercial airline to trial the additive with such renowned companies as Shell Aviation and BetzDearborn,” said Michel Coumans, Vice President of KLM’s Fleet Services. “It is further proof of our continuous effort towards sustainability and a demonstration of our leadership and commitment to the environment. Additionally, we hope the trial may bring benefits which contribute towards constraining our aviation fuel and engine maintenance costs.”

“We are delighted to be part of this important trial, which we hope will bring both fuel efficiencies and an improvement in the environmental performance of commercial aviation,” said Charles Harrison, Managing Director of Shell Aviation. “We look forward to following the progress of the trial over the coming months and to cementing our excellent relationship with KLM and BetzDearborn.”

The move comes at a time of increasing concern over pollution from commercial aviation (see related story).

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