UK is working to operate its air fleets on more sustainable fuels when compared to the present ones, and the government is noting ongoing authorization efforts with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Responding to a question in parliament regarding the use of aviation fuel, Defense Minister Jeremy Quin stated that the Ministry was trying to reduce its environmental impact through reducing the use of standard leaded aviation gasoline (Avgas) and that alternatives were being sought.
UK Defense Secretary Jeremy Quin said on October 26, “The Ministry of Defence is driving to reduce environmental contaminants […] where possible and, as soon as alternatives are proven to be fit for purpose and safe in use, it is our policy to seek clearances from the airframe and engine OEMs for their inclusion in the procurement process,”
Although he specifically refers to the piston engine fuel Avgas 100LL and the additive tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) in his response, Quin’s comments reveal the Department of Defense’s broader effort to offer more sustainable fuel sources for aviation fleets.
Aircraft fuel for the fixed and rotary-wing fleets of the UK armed forces accounts for two-thirds of the Defense Department’s total fuel use. In mid-October, Strategic Command reported on progress made in a three-year effort to develop and use greener fuels for its aircraft.
Jet fuel is used to power jet engines. Also known as aviation turbine fuel or Avtur, this is a highly refined Kerosene (a type of diesel), ignited by pressure and heat. There are many different types of private jet fuel, from military fuels such as the JET F-34 / JP-8, including those designed for passenger aircraft such as the JET A-1. Each has different properties such as freezing points, octane ratings and additives.
Aviation fuel is a term often used interchangeably with jet fuel, but it can also refer to aviation gasoline used for general aviation; such as piston propeller engines, micro-headlights and sports aircraft. Known as AVGAS, this spark-ignition fuel has a much lower flash point than jet fuel and a much higher octane rating than gasoline used in road vehicles.
At normal temperatures, aviation fuel gives off very little steam. This means it will not be easily ignited or form dangerous fuel-air mixtures. JET-A1 also has a higher flash point than 38˚C and this is very important as it reduces the possibility of unsafe combustion of the fuel. However, after evaporation, jet fuel is extremely flammable and inflames at a much higher temperature than other fuels.