Sunday, April 12, 2009

Greener Aviation Fuel?

Those familiar with aviation and aviation fuel will tell you that there has long been a concern among the community that aviation fuel or AVGAS, which is a 100LL(low lead) fuel used in all piston driven aircraft, would eventually be removed from the market. This will occur because AVGAS is the only fuel on the market today that still contains a small amount of tetra-ethyl lead(TEL). Although TEL is the "silver bullet" that makes AVGAS the only safe option for approximately 70% of the general aviation population, environmentalists will likely win this battle. Currently there is no replacement for TEL, despite years of research to replace the additive that is clearly not good for breathing or the environment. Because aviation of all types is a vital link in our government, military, and the economy, it is imperative that we establish an alternative. Recently, Teledyne-Continental Motors, a company that has a long history of producing engines for the general aviation market, conducted flight testing of a new prototype unleaded fuel that has the potential to replace AVGAS. See http://tcmlink.com/pressReleases/UnleadedFuelFlight_Final.pdf for the details. The new fuel, dubbed 94UL by it's producers, showed promise during a series of laboratory tests over the past year which culminated with the successful aformentioned flight test. Because 94UL is showing such promise, those of us who use it on a regular basis and care for the environment are elated at the potential. Maybe, just maybe, we can have it both ways.

2 comments:

Amos said...

It is true that AVGAS is used as the fuel for all piston driven aircraft. However, the assertion that finding an alternative for AVGAS is vital to government, military, and the economy seems far fetched. There is practically no aircraft in commercial or military use (including prop planes and helicopters) that employs piston engines. The issue with AVGAS would have little impact on the economy and every day lives of people.

David Wogan said...

The issue of avgas is important not only for the military and government, but for private aviation. My father, Retired Air Force, keeps me up to date on private aviation and light planes. Trying to find a replacement to traditional leaded fuel is a challenge.