Boeing, NASA and United Airlines to test the benefits of SAF on contrails

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As part of a collaboration to strengthen sustainability in aviation, Boeing associates with the NASA and to United Airlines for flight tests to measure the impact of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on the condensation trails and the non-carbon emissionsin addition to reducing fuel consumption.

The second ecoDemonstrator Explore of Boeing, a 737-10 intended for United Airlines, will fly with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and conventional kerosene in separate tanks and with alternative fuels during testing. The airborne science laboratory DC-8 will fly behind the commercial aircraft and measure emissions produced by each fuel type and trailed ice particles. THE satellites NASA will capture images of contrail formation as part of the tests.

Researchers aim to understand how advanced fuels, engine combustion chamber designs and other technologies can reduce the atmospheric warming. For example, tests will evaluate how SAF affects the characteristics of contrails, or the persistent contrails produced when aircraft fly in cold, humid air. Although their full impact is not yet understood, some research suggests that some contrails can trap heat in the atmosphere.

World Energy is providing SAF for testing from its facilities in Paramount, California. Additional assistance includes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from the United States which provides funding through the ASCENT Center of Excellence, GE Aerospace which provides technical expertise and project financing and finally the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR) which provides experts and instruments.

The project is the latest phase of a multi-year partnership between Boeing and NASA to analyze how SAF can reduce emissions and generate other environmental benefits. Compared to conventional jet fuel, the SAF – made from a range of sustainably produced raw materials – can reduce emissions by up to 85% on the fuel life cycle and offers the greatest potential for reducing fuel CO2 emissions of aviation over the next 30 years. SAF also produces less soot, which can improve air quality near airports.

The program Boeing ecoDemonstrator was expanded this year to include Explorer aircraft focused on specific short-term test projects. Boeing and NASA conducted SAF emissions ground tests on an Alaska Airlines 737-9 in 2021 and ecoDemonstrator flight test aircraft 777-200ER And 787-10 in 2022. Boeing is committed to delivering 100% SAF-compatible commercial aircraft by 2030. The 737-10 is the largest aircraft in Boeing’s single-aisle 737 MAX family, which reduces fuel consumption and emissions of 20% compared to the planes it replaces, says Boeing.

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