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During the past six years at Alabama Aviation and Technical College, the only all-aviation two-year college in Alabama, six alternative fuel 50-h probe tests using a variety of piston aircraft engines were run on gasohol, liquid propane gas, synthetic oil, alcohol (199.9 proof ethanol), methane, and a combination of 50% ethanol and 50% methanol.
Most recently, a small aircraft turbine, a Pratt & Whitney Aircraft PT-6 turboprop with a torquemeter, was run on a blend of 10% renewable 199.9 proof ethanol and 90% Jet A fuel.
Throughout these tests, it was learned that alcohol is not just another fuel but is a superior fuel for aviation, and now it behooves us to run FAA 150-h power plant endurance tests to get their approval of supplemental type certificates for the use of these fuels in piston aircraft engines.
The reason that ethanol has been favored over methanol is that methanol has poor lubricity, high corrosiveness, and requires special additives, whereas ethanol did not cause any problems in the piston engines, parts, and accessories.
Complete documentary technical data on these tests in the form of log sheets recorded all of the instrument readings at the various operating parameters of Idle, Take Off, and Cruise. Also, over 1000 color photographs of all of the disassembled parts, before the tests and again at the conclusion of the tests, and final written reports of the results are filed in the Energy Department of the State of Alabama in Montgomery.
aviation, ethanol, methane, alcohol, methanol, synthetic oils, aircraft engines, fuels, aviation fuels, general aviation
Director, Alabama Aviation and Technical College, Ozark, AL