As you might expect, there is good news and bad news surrounding aviation fuel.
In the 1970s, the automotive world switched from leaded to unleaded fuels and the oil companies did a lot of research on knocking and how to prevent it. One of the big projects involved octane requirement increase (ORI).
In this program, cars were rated for octane requirement when new and then every 2,000 miles. The octane requirement increased until it leveled off at about 20,000 miles. [Read more…]
California was the first state to attempt to remove the lead from 100LL by lawsuit. Unfortunately, the result of the unsuccessful CEH lawsuit only increased the cost of 100LL in the state.
Now, along comes Oregon, which wants to tax the lead out of 100LL. I have a feeling this method will appeal to other states, so prepare to see it find traction in your state legislature. [Read more…]
A wise man once said, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then you have evidently not grasped the gravity of the situation.”
Late in 2011, a little known environmental organization, perhaps totally unknown in aviation circles, Center For Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against “30 companies that sell and/or distribute lead-containing aviation gas (avgas) at 23 California airports, calling on the companies to provide safer alternative fuels.”
Phase 1 testing of four possible replacements for 100LL begins this month at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City.
The four unleaded fuels — one from Shell, one from TOTAL, and two from Swift Fuels — will undergo laboratory and rig testing to analyze a number of factors, including materials compatibility issues with aircraft components, such as fuel bladders, fuel gauges, pumps and more.
Last December, Shell Aviation revealed that it was the first major oil company to develop a lead-free replacement for 100LL.
The lead-free formulation is the result of 10 years of “exhaustive R&D,” according to company officials.
While some worry that large companies will forsake GA as it is such as small segment of the fuels market, Shell officials say that’s not true for them.
When I started to write this post on unleaded avgas, I sat down to read about the upcoming evaluation program for four candidate fuels. The more I read the more questions it raised.
For instance, why does Swift Fuels have two candidates?
But the biggest question concerned the percentage of the piston aviation fleet that the new candidate fuels will satisfy. A few questions arise, like which engines are the most critical, under what conditions will they knock, which airframe, propeller, operating conditions are most critical, and on and on.