News>Secretary sees first afterburning engine test with synthetic fuel
Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne talks to reporters about the testing to certify synthetic jet fuel for use in Air Force combat aircraft Nov. 27 at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The secretary witnessed the first ground testing of the General Electric F101 engine using a 50-50 mix of Fischer-Tropsch and JP-8 jet fuels. (U.S. Air Force photo)
A test technician prepares the General Electric F101 engine for testing at Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The F101 engine is slated to be the first high-performance, supersonic engine to be certified to run on a 50-50 blend of Fisher-Tropsch synthetic fuel and JP-8 fuel. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The General Electric F101 engine is currently being tested for running on a 50-50 blend of Fisher-Tropsch synthetic fuel and JP-8 fuel at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The F101 engine powers the B-1B Lancer. (U.S. Air Force photo)
11/28/2007 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFPN) -- The secretary of the Air Force viewed the first ground testing of the General Electric F101 engine using a 50-50 mix of Fischer-Tropsch and JP-8 jet fuels Nov. 27 at Arnold Air Force Base.
Secretary Michael W. Wynne witnessed the first series to qualify a high-performance, afterburning engine with FT fuel for a combat aircraft at the Arnold Engineering Development Center.
The Air Force's synthetic fuel initiative has already reached some significant milestones this year, including successful flight certification of the B-52 Stratofortress and successful qualification ground testing of the engine that powers both the C-17 Globemaster III and the Boeing 757, Secretary Wynne said.
The ground testing of the B-1B Lancer engine is the next step toward certifying the second bomber aircraft.
"This test that we're going to do today, on a two-stage engine, the F101, is the first reach into the supersonic," he said. "Once we do the qualification on the ground, then we'll mount that engine back into an airplane and we'll fly the B-1B on a supersonic flight (using synthetic fuel)."
Secretary Wynne, who was at Arnold AFB to observe the FT engine ground test and certification process, said alternative fuel is not currently being commercially produced on a large scale in the United States. He hopes the current testing will help to change that.
"We know that we're being watched by all of our colleagues throughout the aviation industry," he said. "We hope the fuel becomes a free-market commodity. If that happens, then we will have done what we set out to do -- reduce our dependency on foreign oil and increase our choices for fuel."
He said synthetic fuel production has been done successfully before in Germany, Japan and South Africa, but the Air Force wants to go beyond what has been achieved in the past.
"We would like to qualify our engines, not to a particular synthetic fuel, but instead to an improved process and to achieve a chemical standard," he said. "We are now well aware of our contribution to carbon. We also well know that as part of the manufacturing process, we will have to reduce our carbon footprint and be a little kinder to the environment."