A NASA-led study has found that the use of biofuels to power jet engines can reduce particle emission levels by 50 percent to 70 percent.
The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study includes findings from a cooperative international research program that involved agencies from Germany and Canada, NASA said Thursday.
ACCESS examined the effects of alternative fuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails using data collected from flight tests in 2013 and 2014 near NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.
“The observed particle reductions we’ve measured during ACCESS should directly translate into reduced ice crystal concentrations in contrails, which in turn should help minimize their impact on Earth’s environment,” said Bruce Anderson, an ACCESS project scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
Researchers found that contrails form long-lasting clouds and have a bigger impact on the Earth’s atmosphere than all aviation-related carbon dioxide emissions.
During the tests, NASA flew its DC-8 aircraft powered by a 50-50 blend of aviation fuel and a renewable alternative fuel while research aircraft trailed the DC-8 to measure emissions and monitored contrail formation.
NASA plans to conduct additional studies to explore the potential advantages of using biofuels in aircraft.