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In the current alternative jet fuel certification process, approximately $3-4 million and 20,000-100,000 gallons of fuel are used over a three to five year period to evaluate the behavior of new blends of fuel within engines. This extended process is not only costly but also carbon intensive. The National Jet Fuels Combustion Program’s (NJFCP) mission is to streamline the certification process of alternative jet fuels, which is controlled by a fuel’s operability limits for select ignition and lean blowout conditions. For ignition, the propensity of a fuel to ignite is limited by its ability to form a flammable mixture with air near a spark kernel. The fuel properties of viscosity and volatility largely govern this reaction because of their influence on the mean droplet size and vaporization rate, respectively. This research aims to achieve a thorough droplet modeling analysis and surrogate generation that imparts key information about whether viscosity or volatility is the fundamental factor in ignition performance. The proposed work will also supplement the NJFCP’s goal of assessing the behavior of alternative fuels within combustors with minimal engine testing. Success of this research will assist the NJFCP in their efforts to accelerate the alternative fuel certification process, promote the de-carbonization of aviation jet fuels, and produce next generation high performance fuels.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Joshua S Heyne

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


Presenter: Katherine Claire Opacich

Understanding the Impact of Fuel Volatility and Viscosity on Gas Turbine Engine Ignition