Monday, April 14, 2008

Supersonic synfuel and fuel cells

The US Air Force are moving into alternative jet fuel in a big way, indeed they want all of their aircraft to be certified to be able to use a 50:50 blend of synthetic and normal jet fuel by 2011. The B-52 and C-17 has already flown using this blend and the next step is the B-1 bomber which will soon make the first supersonic flight using the blend. The F-15 is also being tested.

The synthetic fuel is a gas to liquid fuel made by Shell, though in the longer term (i.e. 2016) the USAF want to use a coal derived synthetic fuel.

Boeing have also demonstrated a small motor-glider which was modified to fly under a combination of fuel cells and an lithium-ion battery. The battery was used to boost power at take off and landing though the motor-glider flew on fuel cell alone on level flight. Using fuel cells reduced emissions across the board (CO2, infrared and noise) though is expected to be used more for unmanned aircraft.

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