Energy Department, Air Force Research Laboratories Team for Cleaner Air

Published October 15th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Researchers at two federal agencies are joining forces today to study the sulfur content of jet fuels in an effort they believe will eventually reduce emissions from advanced propulsion systems. 


Dr. Fred Brown, Associate Director for the Office of Fuels and Energy Efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and Brig. Gen. Paul D. Nielsen, Commander of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, today signed an agreement at Wright Patterson Air Force Base to collaborate on research, development, and demonstrations related to clean aviation fuels, fuel additives, and lubricants. The five-year, cost-shared effort supports DOE's Ultra Clean Transportation Fuels Initiative managed by NETL.  


The joint effort with the Air Force is part of a larger Energy Department initiative that could commit $100 million or more over five years to provide the nation with affordable, clean transportation fuels from petroleum, natural gas, coal and other energy resources.  


These fuels will enable ground vehicles, marine vessels, and aircraft to achieve significantly lower pollutant emissions. The technologies that are being pursued will, when implemented, lead to a cleaner environment and more options to lessen the demand for imported oil. 


Initial research by NETL and AFRL scientists will focus on understanding how sulfur compounds in fuels, particularly jet fuels, impact engines and emission control systems, according to John Winslow, NETL's Product Manager for Transportation Fuels and Chemicals. 


"Since the Environmental Protection Agency's likelihood of mandating reduced levels of sulfur in diesel and gasoline may have a cascading impact on sulfur concentrations in jet fuels, we want to be ready," Winslow said.  


"Understanding the role sulfur compounds play in engine performance will assist the development of ultraclean fuels to improve performance of these engines and lessen the environmental impact caused by military and commercial aircraft," he added. 


In the initial agreement between NETL and AFRL, researchers will study the chemical structure of sulfur compounds and the resultant emissions. They plan to selectively remove sulfur compounds from fuel by using chromatography or complexing agents to fractionate (break up) those compounds. 


Researchers will also look at the contribution that sulfur makes to the formation of varnishes on metal surfaces, particularly under heat stress. Ultimately, the researchers will attempt to remove the surface deposits by using methods developed by NETL to solubilize coal.  


Solving these problems paves the way for applying new technologies to dramatically reduce both the sulfur content of fuels and the impact of the remaining sulfur species on aircraft system performance and emissions. 


The National Energy Technology Laboratory, one of DOE's 15 national laboratories, performs, manages and implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental programs. NETL employs approximately 1,100 federal personnel and support-service contractors at its sites in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Morgantown, W.Va. 


The Air Force Research Laboratory conducts research and development for the Air Force across the entire range of aerospace and interrlated technologies with facilities located at Wright-Patterson, and six other Air Force bases in the United States. 

Source:United States Energy Information Administration. 

© 2000 Mena Report (

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