Published: February 15, 2010 08:30 am
GAMI formulates unleaded piston-engine aircraft fuel
Justin Lofton Staff Writer
Ada — George Braly and Tim Roehl may have solved a problem that’s been plaguing the aircraft industry and the Environmental Protection Agency for years. Braly and Roehl, owners of General Aviation Modifications, Inc. at Ada Municipal Airport, say they have formulated an unleaded piston-engine-aircraft fuel that may revolutionize the industry because it produces the same octane rating as leaded fuel.
“We have one of the finest test facilities in the country for being able to evaluate the octane performance of various fuels,” Roehl said.In November 2007, Friends of the Earth — an international network of environmental organizations — petitioned EPA in attempt to get "avgas," a high lead fuel regulated. Roehl said due to a court case with Friends of the Earth the EPA must finally force a removal of lead from avgas.
“Having been familiar with a lot of the formulations that have been tried in the past, we decided to formulate our own fuel,” Roehl said. “After about a month of testing, we feel confident that we have, in fact, come up with a fully 100 Motor Octane Number unleaded avgas fuel that meets essentially all of the requirements that avgas will need to meet.”
The new fuel is called G100UL. Roehl said they have filed for a patent and have applied for certification with the FAA. He said representatives with the FAA, The Aviation Consumer magazine, and General Aircraft Manufacturers Association have come to Ada to look at the fuel they’ve developed.
No ingredients in their formula should drive the cost of avgas up significantly, Roehl said.
“Our goal here is to preserve the opportunity for today’s aircraft engines to not only maintain existing aircraft performance levels but also to be able to raise those performance levels and improve the efficiency of those engines on a new unleaded high-octane fuel,” he said.
Roehl said the fuel has been tested in their testing facility, as well as in one of their airplanes. After more testing, he and Braly hope the formula can be licensed to world-wide avgas producers.
“We hope this fuel can be adopted as a replacement for 100LL and should serve to help the environment while maintaining the performance of our aircraft today,” Roehl said.
“For 15 years since the lead was removed from automobile gas, the EPA has given an extension to the general aviation industry to allow them to continue to try to find some additive to try to replace tetra-ethyl lead which would allow for the removal of lead and yet the retention of the 100 octane rating of the fuel.” Roehl said no substitute could be found that provided the same octane rating.
Roehl said there are approximately 200,000 airplanes currently flying in the world with piston aircraft engines—typically smaller single and twin engine airplanes. The standard fuel for these engines is called avgas, also known as 100LL (Low Lead). Roehl said tetra-ethyl lead is a major ingredient in the fuel.
“It’s the last remaining leaded fuel allowed by the EPA,” he said. “As airplanes and engines are certified by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), the engines’ horsepower and performance is based upon the octane rating of the fuel. If you decrease the octane rating of the fuel, the engines cannot make the rated horsepower and the engines and the airframes in combination can’t perform according to their certification basis.”
Roehl said they’ve tested several unleaded fuels others have formulated to try and solve this problem.