Purdue researchers finding cleaner fuel alternatives

Members of the Fuel Laboratory of Renewable Energy, or FLORE, are aiming to create cost efficient fuels.

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 6:25 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - As Purdue celebrates its 150th anniversary of "giant leaps," a group of researchers wants to make giant leaps of its own.

Members of the Fuel Laboratory of Renewable Energy, or FLORE, are aiming to create cost efficient fuels.
It is one of just three labs in the nation testing the composition of diesel and aviation fuels. The researchers at FLORE noticed a research gap in the development of fuels.

"Within the past 10 to 20 years we were not able to understand what is inside of the complex mixture, and fuels are very complex mixtures,” said lab assistant Petr Vozka while explaining the need for such research.

The American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM, regulates the development of fuels. According to ASTM testing guidelines it can take up to 5 years' development to approve a fuel. The tests consume thousands of gallons of fuel and cost nearly $30 million.

That's a cost FLORE director Gozdem Kilaz hopes to reduce. "We are trying to make this process less costly and less cumbersome by utilizing only a few milliliters of the fuel,” said Kilaz.

So how can only a few milliliters cut costs? The lab is equipped with two state of the art machines. Together, the amount and type of molecules within different fuels can be determined.

"If we know the exact chemical composition, we can mimic these chemical compositions while producing the new fuel,” said Vozka.

According Dr. Kilaz, this is a step toward fuels with cleaner alternatives. "If we are utilizing the biomass as opposed to the petroleum derived sources, we are definitely going towards a much more environmental solution,” said Kilaz.

The researchers hope their work will be used to bring cleaner fuels to commercial airlines.

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