Correlating chemical composition of aviation fuel to physical and chemical properties and performance for the rational development of alternative fuels


DR. Hilkka Kenttämaa, Dr. Gozdem Kilaz & Dr. Rodney Trice

Overview: Replacing petroleum-derived fuels with resilient fuels has reached national priority status. To reach this goal, it is imperative that the physical and chemical properties of resilient fuels are comparable to those of petroleum-derived fuels. These properties are dictated by the fuel’s chemical composition. Our current goals are to identify and quantify compounds present in different fuels by using several analytical instruments (i.e., GCxGC/(EI)TOF MS). Our group uses this vital information to predict how the chemical composition of new, resilient fuels will influence their physical and chemical properties and the overall performance of an aircraft. For example, we have developed a testing rig to explore how aromatic compounds in fuel influence the propensity to swell o-ring seals in fuel circulation systems of an aircraft. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects in our group. Such projects include, but are not limited to a) determination how mixtures of aromatic compounds influence o-ring swelling, b) testing complete tensile strength of o-ring seals immersed in fuel samples c) measuring physical and chemical properties (i.e., density, freezing point) of surrogate mixtures, d) creating a database to correlate fuel chemical composition with properties, e) using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify and quantify compounds present in fuel samples and f) study the effects of bioimpurities on ceramic thermally cycled surfaces. Students will be trained and mentored in projects they are interested in so no experience in projects mentioned above is required.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Aviation Technology, Aeronautical Engineering.

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