National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Research Projects

Catalyst Analysis for Green Fuel Production

Principal Investigators: Dr. Aloysius F. Hepp, Dr. Ana B. De La Ree

Research Associates: Taichi K. Murata, Macie Price

This activity focused on the characterization and analysis of catalysts for the enhanced production of the aviation fuel fraction (saturated hydrocarbons with 8-16 carbons) of the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. The clean or green aviation fuel synthesis effort is part of the Subsonic Fixed Wing component of Fundamental Aeronautics.

The objective of the project is to analyze new catalyst materials for the Fisher-Tropsch reaction (hydrocarbons from gaseous starting materials). These are typically metal oxide or metal alloys. These catalyst materials must then be carefully characterized so that when run in the catalytic reactor, catalytic activity and selectivity can be correlated with characterization data.

Fuel Droplet Vaporization Rate Measurement Technique

Principal Investigators: Sarah Tedder, Yolanda Hicks, Kathy Tacina

Research Associates: Steve Carter, Daniel ReMine, Dennis Siedlak

A goal of fundamental aeronautics research at NASA is to decrease aircraft emission of NOx and other greenhouse gasses. Previous NASA research indicates NOx emissions strongly depend on degree of fuel/air mixing. Alternative fuels and new fuel injector designs have the potential to enhance fuel/air mixing and lower NOx emissions. The higher Hydrogen to Carbon ratio of alternative fuels will also reduce CO2 greenhouse gases. The performance of these fuel injectors and alternative fuels can be assessed by measuring vaporization rates. The capability to measure fuel droplet vaporization rate in burning sprays using laser diagnostics at NASA Glenn is in development. Currently, different techniques of measuring droplet vaporization rate are being assessed for feasibility of use. The project will be performed by a team of 2 – 3 students and several mentors (including management and others who work in laser diagnostics). The students may travel to other NASA centers, national labs, or universities to learn about laser diagnostics techniques and form relationships with other groups performing similar work.

The objective of the project is to research and test droplet vaporization rate measurement techniques for their feasibility for use in burning sprays. If a potential technique is established as feasible the identified technique will undergo further development and testing. Otherwise alternative techniques will be pursued and documented. Students will work with a mentor to research techniques, setup up laser equipment, test techniques in the laboratory, and analyze results. A report detailing the characteristics and feasibility of the techniques will be compiled and published.

Intelligent Aircraft Engines for Next Generation Air Transportation

Principal Investigators: John Lekki, Gary Hunter, Don Simon

Research Associates: Arick Reed Abraham, Melanie Chatham, Nathaniel Morris, Daniel Kakaley, Heath Reising

This project is in support of the Aviation Safety Program Vehicle Systems Safety Technology Project and it has applicability to sensor and engine control models utilized in fundamental aeronautics. In particular, this work is in support of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) development and testing. VSST is developing advanced sensors and diagnostic capabilities to detect the early indications of faults which would present a safety hazard to the aircraft and its occupants. This added engine intelligence can also benefit engine fuel burn and emissions. VIPR testing is an approach to health management research which aims to integrate engine testing with on-going diagnostics and sensor system development. The VIPR series of tests are planned to extend for least 3 years (and hopefully beyond) with expanding diagnostic and sensor suite integration over the series of tests.

The objective of this project will be to study the linkages of advanced sensors to engine diagnostic methods and knowledge of engine degradation state. As the engine degrades it becomes more inefficient and the degradation process tends to accelerate. By monitoring engine degradation it would be possible to detect potential engine faults, or also reschedule engine control parameters to optimize engine performance. In this project students will study how advanced sensory input can be integrated into a new engine state awareness system. Students will have access to sensor and diagnostic data from the VIPR tests. The final result will be a report detailing previous efforts in this area and suggested approaches for developing and integrating an advanced engine state awareness system.