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Aviation fuel

The meaning of «aviation fuel»

Aviation fuels are petroleum-based fuels, or petroleum and synthetic fuel blends, used to power aircraft. They have more stringent requirements than fuels used for ground use, such as heating and road transport, and contain additives to enhance or maintain properties important to fuel performance or handling. They are kerosene-based (JP-8 and Jet A-1) for gas turbine-powered aircraft. Piston-engined aircraft use gasoline and those with diesel engines may use jet fuel (kerosene).[1] By 2012 all aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force had been certified to use a 50-50 blend of kerosene and synthetic fuel derived from coal or natural gas as a way of stabilizing the cost of fuel.[2]

Specific energy is an important criterion in selecting fuel for an aircraft. The much higher energy storage capability of hydrocarbon fuels compared to batteries has so far prevented electric aircraft using electric batteries as the main propulsion energy store becoming viable for even small personal aircraft.

Jet fuel is a clear to straw-colored fuel, based on either an unleaded kerosene (Jet A-1), or a naphtha-kerosene blend (Jet B). Similar to diesel fuel, it can be used in either compression ignition engines or turbine engines.[1]

Jet-A powers modern commercial airliners and is a mix of extremely refined kerosene and burns at temperatures at or above 49 °C (120 °F). Kerosene-based fuel has a much higher flash point than gasoline-based fuel, meaning that it requires significantly higher temperature to ignite. It is a high-quality fuel; if it fails the purity and other quality tests for use on jet aircraft, it is sold to ground-based users with less demanding requirements, such as railroads.[3]

Avgas (aviation gasoline) is used by small aircraft, light helicopters and vintage piston-engined aircraft. Its formulation is distinct from the conventional gasoline (petrol U.K.) used in motor vehicles which is commonly called mogas or autogas in aviation context.[4] Although it comes in many different grades, its 100 octane rating is higher than that for "regular" motor gasoline which varies between 91 in the United States and 95 in Europe.

Alternatives to conventional fossil-based aviation fuels, new fuels made via the biomass to liquid method (like sustainable aviation fuel) and certain straight vegetable oils can also be used. [5]

Fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel have the advantage that few or no modifications are necessary on the aircraft itself, provided that the fuel characteristics meet specifications for lubricity and density as well as adequately swelling elastomer seals in current aircraft fuel systems.[6] Sustainable aviation fuel and blends of fossil and sustainably-sourced alternative fuels yield lower emissions of particles[7] and GHGs. They are, however, not being used heavily, because they still face political, technological, and economic barriers, such as currently being more expensive than conventionally produced aviation fuels by a wide margin.[8][9][10]

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