NASA Alternative-Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) Flight Experiments
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Although the emission performance of gas-turbine engines burning renewable aviation fuels have been thoroughly documented in recent ground-based studies, there is still great uncertainty regarding how the fuels effect aircraft exhaust composition and contrail formation at cruise altitudes. To fill this information gap, the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate sponsored the ACCESS flight series to make detailed measurements of trace gases, aerosols and ice particles in the near-field behind the NASA DC-8 aircraft as it burned either standard petroleum-based fuel of varying sulfur content or a 50:50 blend of standard fuel and a hydro-treated esters and fatty acid (HEFA) jet fuel produced from camelina plant oil. ACCESS 1, conducted in spring 2013 near Palmdale CA, focused on refining flight plans and sampling techniques and used the instrumented NASA Langley HU-25 aircraft to document DC-8 emissions and contrails on five separate flights of ~2 hour duration. ACCESS 2, conducted from Palmdale in May 2014, engaged partners from the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) and National Research Council-Canada to provide additional scientific expertise and sampling aircraft (Falcon 20 and CT-133, respectively) with more extensive trace gas, particle, or air motion measurement capability. Eight, muliti-aircraft research flights of 2 to 4 hour duration were conducted to document the emissions and contrail properties of the DC-8 as it 1) burned low sulfur Jet A, high sulfur Jet A or low sulfur Jet A/HEFA blend, 2) flew at altitudes between 6 and 11 km, and 3) operated its engines at three different fuel flow rates. This presentation further describes the ACCESS flight experiments, examines fuel type and thrust setting impacts on engine emissions, and compares cruise-altitude observations with similar data acquired in ground-test venues.