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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chicken Fat Biofuel: Eco-friendly Jet Fuel Alternative?

In an RV nicknamed after an urban assault vehicle, scientists from NASA's Langley Research Center traveled cross-country this month for an experiment with eco-friendly jet fuel.

NASA DC-8 aircraft

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NASA's DC-8 at Dryden Flight Research Center's Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Credit: NASA Dryden/Tom Tschida
The Langley team drove 2,600 miles (4,184 km) from Hampton, Va., to meet up with other researchers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

Researchers are testing the biofuel on a NASA DC-8 to measure its performance and emissions as part of the Alternative Aviation Fuel Experiment II, or AAFEX II. The fuel is called Hydrotreated Renewable Jet Fuel.

"It's made out of chicken fat, actually," said Langley's Bruce Anderson, AAFEX II project scientist. "The Air Force bought many thousands of gallons of this to burn in some of their jets and provided about 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) to NASA for this experiment."

Anderson and his team will test a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel, biofuel only, and jet fuel only. The jet fuel is Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, a kerosene-like mix of hydrocarbons.

Two of the team members headed west in a specially equipped 32-foot (9.75 m) van on loan from Langley's Aviation Safety Program. It's dubbed "EM-50" by researchers after the urban assault vehicle used in the 1981 comedy "Stripes" with Bill Murray.

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