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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Technology for reducing environmental load through alternative fuels

Biofuels and other alternatives to fossil fuels have emerged as promising solutions for aircraft in combating climbing fuel prices and putting a stop to global warming. Reports have also shown how biofuels produce minimal amounts of PM (soot), one of the many facets of their environment-friendly characteristics. However, sufficient evaluation has still not been conducted regarding the airworthiness and environmental impact associated with the switch to biofuels.

The International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR), of which JAXA is a member, has formed a working group to discuss the challenges involved in bringing alternative fuels into the aviation sector. JAXA is currently doing combustion tests on gas turbine combustors that use plant-based alternative fuels made in Japan and executing studies on how using alternative fuels based on NASA's satellite imagery analysis of flight tests powered by alternative fuels can help reduce vapor trails. JAXA is also working to assist the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in its initiatives to promote the spread of alternative fuels through the development of international standards. Furthermore, we conducted engine operation testing using 100% bio jet fuel, and have confirmed the environmental benefit of a 60% reduction in PM emissions compared to conventional jet fuel (Jet A-1).

Industrial gas turbines, which operate via the same mechanisms as jet engines do, play vital roles in power generation and many other energy supply facilities of all shapes and sizes around the world. A ripple effect is expected from various applications such as using the waste heat from gas turbines to supplement the heat required for their fuel production processes. JAXA will continue to analyze the characteristics of alternative fuels using recycled scrap wood and waste oil, perform combustion tests, and explore applications in manufacturing methods to drive the spread of alternative fuels, tap that momentum to find solutions to energy problems, and usher society down the path to a low-carbon, recycling-oriented future.