Maintenance savings, fuel efficiency could be significant
Researchers at Ohio’s University of Dayton have developed a method to show where jet fuel deposits have the greatest potential for clogging engines.
The findings, published in a recent issue of the journal “Energy & Fuels,” help jet engine designers to predict and work around such problem spots, said Steve Zabarnick, University of Dayton Research Institute fuel science group leader and aerospace engineering professor.
Millions of dollars could be saved because of less downtime for aircraft, reduced maintenance costs and increased fuel efficiency, according to Zabarnick. Safety should improve because there is less risk of engine failure from fuel deposits, he added.
Zabarnick, Professor Jamie Ervin and doctoral students Zachary West and Nick Kuprowicz developed chemical and engineering models for predicting deposits in fuel nozzles, heat exchangers, narrow valves and filters. Ervin is a UD mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and UDRI modeling and simulation group leader.
“Jet fuels are used both to propel and cool the aircraft,” Zabarnick said, “but when the fuel absorbs heat while cooling certain parts, it forms deposits before being combusted for propulsion.”
Zabarnick said current ways to reduce or eliminate fuel deposits include restricting the fuel’s temperature, using systems that remove oxygen from jet fuel or using fuel additives. However, restricting the fuel’s temperature seriously reduces the plane’s efficiency, he said, adding that fuel additives can be costly, and oxygen removal systems have not yet been perfected.
The team performed much of its work at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “It’s great having these facilities and the UD Research Institute’s structure of an academic and professional setting,” said doctoral candidate West, whose research included experiments on different fuels and the rates of deposit buildup.
UD tops all Ohio universities in federally funded engineering research, Department of Defense research contracts and grants, and aerospace research, Zabarnick said.
For more information: UDayton.edu