Research on Aviation Fuel Instability,
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION CLEVELAND OH LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER
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Current aircraft turbine fuels do not present a significant problem with fuel thermal stability. However, turbine fuels with broadened properties or nonpetroleum-drived fuels may have reduced thermal stability because of their higher content of olefins, heteroatoms, and trace metals. Moreover, advanced turbine engines will increase the thermal stress on fuels because of their higher pressure ratios and combustion temperature. In recognition of the importance of this problem, NASA Lewis is currently engaged in a broadly-based research effort to better understand the underlying causes of fuel thermal degradation. Topics covered in this paper include nature of fuel instability and its temperature dependence methods of measuring the instability chemical mechanisms involved in deposit formation and instrumental methods for characterizing fuel deposits. Some preliminary thoughts on design approaches for minimizing the effects of lowered thermal stability are briefly discussed.