Missouri University of Science and Technology is one of 16 universities chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to form a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternate jet fuels and the environment.
Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
“This innovative partnership supports President Obama’s national plan to address climate change,” says Anthony Foxx, U.S. transportation secretary. “The Center of Excellence will tap talented universities to help us take environmentally friendly, alternative jet fuel technology to the next level. Airlines and their customers will both benefit from their work developing cleaner fuel that supports the environment and continued aviation growth.”
Research and development efforts by the team will focus on NextGen environmental goals for noise, air quality, climate change and energy. Areas of study will include new aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels.
An internationally recognized research team at Missouri S&T, led by Dr. Phil Whitefield, professor of chemistry and interim vice provost of academic affairs, has been studying aerospace particulate matter (PM) emissions and their effect on the environment for more than two decades. The researchers are founding members of another FAA COE – the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER), which was established in 2003. Whitefield works in close collaboration with Dr. Donald Hagen, professor of physics, Prem Lobo, associate director of the Missouri S&T COE, and research associates Max Trueblood, Steven Achterberg and Elizabeth Black.
Under PARTNER, team members gained their expertise in the study of alternate jet fuels to reduce PM emissions. In a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, these S&T researchers found that by combining 50 percent Fischer-Tropsch fuel with 50 percent conventional jet fuel, they reduced particulate matter mass emissions by 39 percent. The Fischer-Tropsch process creates liquid hydrocarbons from coal, natural gas or biomass.
Core team partners in the new FAA Air Transportation Center of Excellence include Boston University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of Dayton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Tennessee.
The FAA’s COE program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government. The FAA anticipates providing this COE with $4 million a year for each of the 10 years of the program.
The selected university members all have nationally recognized collegiate environmental and aviation-related education programs. Research projects will be performed through a partnership of senior scientists from these universities. The COE universities also will engage both graduate-level and undergraduate students in their research activities.
“The FAA continues its goal to improve National Airspace System energy efficiency by at least two percent per year, and to develop and deploy alternative jet fuels for commercial aviation, with a target of one billion gallons of alternate jet fuel in use by 2018,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This Center of Excellence is a valuable tool to provide the critical data we need to reach these goals.”
The COE industry and other organizational partners include: Aerodyne Research, Airbus/EADS, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Cathay Pacific Airways, Clean Energy Trust, CSSI, Delta Air Lines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, Gevo, Gulfstream, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Honeywell UOP, InnovaTek, KiOr, LanzaTech, Metron Aviation, NREL – National Bioenergy Center, PNNL, Rolls Royce, SAFRAN, U.S. DoD – AFRL (Wright Patterson Air Force Base), UTRC (Pratt and Whitney), Weyerhaeuser, Wyle Laboratories and ZeaChem.
For more information about the FAA Centers of Excellence program, visit the COE web page.