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Air Force Begins Testing Synfuel Blend in Fighter Engine

Engineers at the US Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) have begun testing a Pratt & Whitney F100 engine, the power plant for the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, with a blend of alternative synthetic fuel in the J-1 simulated altitude jet engine test cell. Once testing and evaluation is complete, this will be the first fighter jet engine to use the synthetic blend.

Since 2006, AEDC has taken an active role in its support of the US Air Force’s Alternative Fuels Certification Office in the evaluation and certification of the synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) alternative fuel, which is derived from natural gas or coal using the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process, for use in all Air Force aircraft.

Testing at AEDC on the GE F101 engine, the power plant for the B-1 Lancer bomber, was the first series of testing of a high performance, afterburning engine with FT fuel for a combat aircraft. (Earlier post.) This engine was also tested in the center’s J-1 high altitude jet engine test cell.

The Air Force has already certified the engines for the B-52 Stratofortress bomber to operate on FT fuel and the C-17 Globemaster III transport has flown on SPK fuel.

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