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NASA Discovers New Fuel: Animal Fat

Jets usually run on high-octane oil byproducts, however, NASA has tested jets running on fuel based animal fat. In March and April of this year, researchers at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California tested biofuel made of chicken and beef waste fat in the engine of a DC-8 airplane. NASA hopes that the study makes people realize that biofuels do not necessarily have to come from plant sources. According to NASA, fuel can come from algae or rendered animal fat. NASA doesn’t believe that fossil fuels are necessary as a fuel source.

The researchers tested the new animal-based biofuel through an engine burning Jet Propellant 8 fuel, similar to the industry standard Jet-A used in commercial aircraft. The researchers then ran a second engine on a half and half blend of JP-8 and Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel, an animal-based biofuel. They also had a third engine running on pure HRJ. The experiment was called the Alternative Aviations Fuels Experiment, AAFEX.

The purpose of the study was to measure the amount of emissions produced by a jet running on biofuel versus one running on fossil fuels. They discovered that the biofuel-powered engine produced lower sulfate, organic aerosol, and hazardous emissions. It also produced 90% less black carbon emissions at idle and 60% less at takeoff. Nitrogen oxide emissions were also much lower. Nitrogen oxide is a component of smog and triggers asthma attacks and respiratory problems in humans. The results are currently being used to determine wide scale commercial use among airplanes.

Photo Courtesy of Krossbow
Photo Courtesy of netik