Kettering University fired up a SR30 gas turbine jet engine last week looking for better emissions from commercial jet engines. Researchers hope that improvements to the fuel through the use of an additive will help the environment.
Project manager Homayun Navaz, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, will take the findings and his hopes for a Phase II study to Cleveland in mid-December. Co-principal investigator is Greg Davis, professor of Mechanical Engineering.
"The results of our testing at Kettering look promising," Navaz said. "We are asking NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to fund the work into the second phase and continue our testing at their facilities on a larger scale jet engine.
"The main idea," Navaz said, "is to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) that is usually produced in jet fuels during burning. The release of NOx into the atmosphere has a long-term effect on the environment, because it causes the depletion of the ozone layer. The focus of the project was to test some new fuels manufactured by Lubrizol Corp."
Navaz put together a team of specialists, including Davis, to look at new fuels and test a fuel additive called purinox, which can reduce NOx without losing performance.
The testing included a secret ingredient: water! The water was encapsulated in little soap bubbles and suspended through the fuel. Testing at Kettering's test cell lab measured thrust, NOx, air/fuel ratio, and revolutions per minute.
"There was a reduction in NOx emissions," Davis said, "but the dramatic difference was a 50 percent reduction in unburned hydrocarbons (or partially burned fuel) from the engine. We didn't expect that difference. That was a surprise," he added.
Davis noted that using an additive improved NOx emissions without losing performance. "That's the advantage," he said. "You improve the fuel so you don't need a new jet or new engine. That's what NASA is intrigued with."
Navaz will meet with NASA officials in about two weeks. If the project moves forward, the next set of tests may take place at commercial test sites, probably in Ohio.
Written by Pat Mroczek