NewJet Network+

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

A thriving aviation sector sits at the heart of the UK's vision for a global and connected Britain. Aviation and aerospace contribute more than £22bn a year to the UK economy. R&D in electric and hybrid aircraft technology is essential in the journey to decarbonise aviation, but will be realised initially in short haul travel. Medium and long-haul aircraft, where the majority of carbon emissions are produced, will remain dependent on liquid fuel for the foreseeable future.

The aviation sector demands a fuel of high quality to cope with the extreme conditions experienced in flight around the globe, and thus requires governmental and multilateral organisations to work closely together to ensure safety across the whole sector. This rigour means that the industry has several self-regulating bodies controlling the specification of fuel, principally ASTM International based in the US and the Aviation Fuels Committee, run by the UK MOD and the Energy Institute. The focus on safety has meant that the fuel used by the sector has not changed substantially since the 1960's, despite significant advances in the engine and airframe energy efficiencies. The NewJet Network+ would seek overcome the industry "inertia" by taking a longer term and more strategic view than is currently in place within the specification community.

The NewJet Network+ will explore the advantages to commercial aviation offered by the increasing levels of low carbon, synthetic fuel production beyond the existing fuel specification. The network will create a forum (free from commercial restraints that would limit freedom of forward and more strategic thinking) where an exploration of a new jet fuel specification for 2040 and beyond can be investigated. It will specifically focus on the improved properties of synthetic fuels over conventionally refined, fossil fuel feedstocks.

Building on the present model of developing synthetic fuels to mimic the behaviour of conventional fuels, the goal of NewJet is to provide new understanding and insights into the benefits and barriers to a new fuel specification by 2040. The outcome of NewJet will be a virtual centre of excellence linking the chemical properties of a fuel to improved performance properties in flight.

We believe that intervention at a whole system level will help provide a platform for discussions as to the possible benefits of a new fuel specification for conventional and alternative fuels - in terms of CO2 reductions, but also more widely, the non-CO2 benefits, performance and cost of ownership.

Planned Impact

The NewJet Network+ will build on the existing networks working on the sustainability of aviation and bringing together the rich expertise that the UK has in these areas, linking into the existing networks such as ICAO-CAEP, the UK Aviation Fuels Committee Meeting, ASTM, the European ECATS network and SUPERGEN.

The detailed content of each workshop will be shaped by the core team. In order to have sufficient visibility, these workshops will be built around the strategic needs of the challenge themes below, however some flexibility will be maintained if some priority topic emerges during the course of the project. Each workshop will require an appropriate level of preparation and reporting from the core team. High quality proceedings identifying strengths and knowledge gaps will be issued initially through the NewJet website, and through dissemination in the networks that the core members participate regularly.

The aviation sector demands a fuel of high quality to cope with the extreme conditions experienced in flight around the globe, and thus requires governmental and multilateral organisations to work closely together to ensure safety across the whole sector. This rigour means that the industry has several self-regulating bodies controlling the specification of fuel, principally ASTM International based in the US and the Aviation Fuels Committee, run by the UK MOD and the Energy Institute. The focus on safety has meant that the fuel used by the sector has not changed substantially since the 1960's, despite significant advances in the engine and airframe energy efficiencies. The NewJet Network+ would seek overcome the industry "inertia" by taking a longer term and more strategic view than is currently in place within the specification community. The results of the project will be presented at the UK Aviation Fuels Committee Meetings and the ASTM Aviation Fuels meetings, which together control most the world's aviation fuels specification. Additional connections have been made with the specification bodies in China through Herriot Watt.

Publications

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Description The NewJET network+ is working to provide new understanding and insights into the benefits and barriers to a new fuel specification for civil aviation by 2040. This will be a specification for conventional and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) seeking to take advantage of the performance improvements possible in the production and use of fuels with a fuel systems optimised around the chemical compositions of these new fuels. In terms of CO2 reductions, non-CO2 benefits, performance and cost of ownership.

Currently, several SAF fuels have been approved for use, however the high quality demanded by the specifications has resulted in a high cost to the fuels. This has meant that the uptake has been low and SAF fuels have a potential credibility gap as they one of the essential elements to decarbonising flight. Market based measures currently only take into account the CO2 impact of aviation - however under cruise conditions, CO2 only contributes around 50% of the total green house gas impact of aviation on the environment.

The SAF fuels have a substantial decarbonisation effect in the shift from oil to sustainable sources (from 87eq gCO2/MJ compared to 20 - 30gCO2eq g/MJ), which has been widely reported and is used in market based measures to account for offset carbon in the use of these fuels. In addition, after the first year of work, the NewJET Network+ currently estimates the combined impact of moving to a beyond specification SAF fuel to around 7-10% reduction in specific fuel consumption and direct CO2 emission in use. The additional impact of non-CO2 effects in use needs evaluating - potentially using a conversion to a CO2 equivalency. This work will be continued over the coming years of the NewJET Network+ activity.

Importantly, these improvements can be achieved with low level of change to delivery infrastructure and flight hardware, unlike a switch to electric or hydrogen powered flight and can therefore facilitate a more rapid decarbonisation of the sector.
Exploitation Route We are discussing with the DfT if it will be possible to account for non-CO2 effects in future policy.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Transport

URL https://cutcarbon.org.uk/