Currently, Jet A kerosene fuel, a petroleum-based fuel, is used to power turbine engines on aircraft. The qualification of two or more substitutes for the current turbine engine fuel is anticipated over the next 2 years. Near term, these fuels will be isoparaffinic kerosene (IPK) substitutes derived from coal and natural gas through the Fischer Tropsch process. These fuels can be tailored to have similar characteristics to Jet A kerosene fuel and can thus be thought of as “drop-in” replacements.
Fuels currently being qualified as “drop-in” replacements for the aircraft engines and auxiliary power units also appear to have benefits for airport operators. These same drop-in fuels may also provide a feasible alternative to diesel used in ground support equipment and other airport vehicles, increasing the potential local air quality benefits. Potential changes in the overall economics of supply, distribution and delivery of aircraft fuel could help to address the increasingly frequent problem of localized shortages at airports. The possibility of a single fuel that could be used in both aircraft and ground vehicles may have a positive impact on the economic feasibility of developing any necessary infrastructure. Evaluation of these potential benefits to airport operators may suggest a different approach to analyzing the costs associated with the production and delivery of these fuels. In addition, combustion of these fuels may produce lower emissions of a variety of pollutants that are currently regulated or may be regulated in the future at airports. While much of the focus of alternative aviation fuel research has been on greenhouse gas emissions, the potential for improving local air quality is also of great interest to the airport community.
It would be useful to airport operators if a handbook was available that identified the inputs and their range of values, and procedures to be followed to perform a cost and benefit analysis of providing alternative drop-in fuels at airports.
The objective of this research is to prepare a handbook that airport operators can use to evaluate the costs and benefits of providing a “drop-in” alternative turbine engine fuel at airports, taking into account that such fuel may also be used for other purposes (e.g., ground vehicles, generators). The cost and benefit analysis shall include, at a minimum: infrastructure changes, operational/maintenance impacts, and environmental factors. The handbook shall include templates and illustrative examples of cost and benefit analyses for different sizes of airports and types of fueling facilities.