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NASA Tests Flower-Based Biofuel for Jets

NASA Tests Flower-Based Biofuel for Jets

In Hampton Roads, Va., a jet engine may be the sound of freedom, but the contrail it leaves behind is nothing to salute. The cloud-like contrail is composed of ice crystals, soot, sulfur and other harmful elements that riddle the emissions of jet engines and are potentially harmful to people and the environment.

But NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton has just finished up weeks of testing a renewable alternative flower-based biofuel for jet engines that could one day lead to cleaner skies by reducing the amount of carbon-based fuels used to power aircraft.

“We wanted to focus on fuels that mitigated the CO2 buildup in the atmosphere,” senior research scientist Bruce Anderson said Thursday. “People think of NASA as being a space agency. Here at Langley, we focus a lot of effort on these types of things. They have an equal — or even more — impact on life here on Earth.”

Beginning in mid-February and running for several weeks, he said, NASA flew its Douglas DC-8 test airplane 39,000 feet above its Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The plane’s four engines were filled with either conventional JP-8 jet fuel, which is essentially kerosene, or with a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and a fuel oil produced from the flowering camelina plant, commonly known as false flax.

For the complete story by Tamara Dietrich of the (Hampton Roads) Daily Press, click here.

Updated: April 29, 2013 — 10:39 AM

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