Progress Toward Quality Assurance Standards for Advanced Hydrocarbon Fuels Based on Thermal Performance Testing and Chemometric Modeling
Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RQRC) Edwards AFB United States
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Ensuring fuel suitability is a challenge faced by aerospace propulsion development programs. Specifically, reliable and predictable thermal management of engine and vehicle structures, and more precisely the fuels ability to absorb heat without detrimentally affecting cooling system performance and reliability, is a common requirement for aircraft, rockets, and hypersonic vehicles. The Aerospace Fuels Quality Test and Model Development AFQTMoDev project was initiated to mature fuel quality assurance practices for rocket grade kerosene, thereby ensuring operational readiness of conventional and alternative fuels. During the first two years of the effort, a compact, relevant thermal integrity test metrology was developed, applied to a compositionally diverse set of fuels, and evaluated on the merits of repeatability, sensitivity, and characteristics amenable to standardization. Furthermore, in an attempt to explain the influence of physical and chemical variables on the complex deposit formation process, chemometric approaches principal component analysis PCA, tile-based Fisher Ratio F-ratio analysis, and partial least squares PLS analysis were applied to multivariate datasets comprising comprehensive chromatographic data GCGC TOFMS and quantitative fuel thermal integrity data, resulting in predictive models correlating fuel composition with observed behavior. Together, these accomplishments demonstrate advancements in both fit-for-purpose fuel thermal performance evaluation for quality assurance and the application of advanced analytical tools to a complex physicochemical process.