Alternative Aviation Fuels Fire Safety

United States (US) firefighters were challenged with the introduction E85 fuels in 2008 as a large number of material and tactical changes were necessary by the fire service to ensure that interactions with synthetic fuel combustion and typical firefighting foams did not lead to dangerous situations for firefighters. The variety of drop-in aviation fuel blends with synthetic pathways introduces significant opportunity for similar differences negatively impacting the safety of the public and first responders. The Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (FAA ARFF), due to the nature of short time and extreme urgency of effective response to preserve lives, will require characterization of the response challenges and training to provide incident commanders with awareness of the changes needed to make timely, effective and safe adjustments to tactical response. Recent advancements in alternative jet fuels and unleaded aviation gasoline replacement candidates have brought to our attention the need to investigate the efficiency of currently utilized fire extinguishing agents at the airports and aircraft. Firefighting foam has been the most commonly used extinguishing medium in the past years. Still, there are multiple varieties in the types of concentrates applied as well as the standards by which the foams get approved. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), FAA (Mil-F-24385), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all have their test protocols for evaluating the capability of these foams. This results in multiple issues with technical variations. Thus, there is a need for evaluating the current certification protocols and specifications to alleviate compatibility concerns. The situation is further complicated by the recently approved alternative aviation fuels as the chemical differences are expected to impact the foams’ firefighting properties. With FAA’s goal of “1 billion gallons of sustainable drop-in jet fuel per year by 2018” in mind, Purdue research team will tackle this imminent challenge. The research will be executed concurrently between three teams of researchers. Dr. Kilaz’s team will be responsible for analyzing the alternative fuels (gas turbine and piston engine) to determine the chemical and physical properties that affect the performance and burn characteristics. The focus of the second team of researchers led by Dr. Qiao will be to determine the flammability limits, minimum ignition energy, and rate of fire spread of traditional and alternative aviation fuels. These properties are critical for fire safety predictions of fuels in ground handling and flight storage. Dr. Gore and Dr. Lucht will lead the third portion of this investigation towards developing an experimental fire facility at Purdue University which is capable of studying aviation fuels fire safety under a broad range of environmental conditions including ambient temperature, humidity, wind speeds and wind directions.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Centers of Excellence - Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $389,646.16
  • Contract Numbers:




  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    William J. Hughes Technical Center, Atlantic City International Airport
    Atlantic City, NJ  United States  08405
  • Project Managers:

    Bagot, Keith

  • Performing Organizations:

    Purdue University, Polytechnic

    401 N. Grant Street
    West Lafayette, IN  United States  47907
  • Principal Investigators:

    Kilaz, Gozdem

  • Start Date: 20150130
  • Expected Completion Date: 20170601
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170601
  • Source Data: PEGASAS Project 13

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01587294
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability
  • Contract Numbers: 12-C-GA-PU-023,032, 12-C-GA-PU-048, 12-C-GA-PU-080
  • Files: RIP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 19 2016 4:02PM