Good news on AVAGAS

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  • #84620

    Shell has announced a lead free 100 Octane gas for aviation!

    http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/Shell-Announces-Unleaded-100-Octane-Fuel221070-1.html

    This is the largest entry so far, but so far there are Swift, GAMI and now Shell with lead free 100 octane gas formulations. Ed Kollin (Cam guard) is also working on an additive to 100 LL base stock.

    This is great news for the Cessna twin fleet as a drop in replacement would help keep them flying.

    Also, 100LL is very low volume since it is only used for aviation. A 100 Octane gas that was lead free would be a great racing fuel for professional and amateur track/racing events, the marine market, etc. These markets are both much larger than aviation and would help reduce the cost.

    #101830

    The Shell entry I believe will be the most likely to win. Theoretically the other two could be accepted as replacements as well and be used, but there is something to having a company that can actually do it entering the race. GAMI is trying to sell a formula that it won’t tell you what it is, and Swift has to build the infrastructure.

    So this is excellent news indeed. It’s also relatively recent compared to G100UL and Swift. 2.5 years ago I was involved in the fuels project and hadn’t heard anything about a Shell entry.

    #101831

    I think the best path for GAMI and Swift would be license agreements with existing distributors like Exxon, etc who will now be looking for adoptable technology to counter Shell’s announcement.

    #101834
    rwelsh
    Participant

      [quoteI think the best path for GAMI and Swift would be license agreements with existing distributors like Exxon, etc who will now be looking for adoptable technology to counter Shell’s announcement][/quote]

      Eric, I could not tell if you were grinning with sarcasm when you wrote this. Since when have fuel companies worried about competition? I think gas wars went out in the late 50s.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with Shell’s news release although the part I read on AvWeb that caught my attention was when Shell said they expect a rapid approval from the FAA and SAE. Maybe we could get rapid approval if Congress passes a specific bill for it like Congress had to do with Part 23 easier certification and possibly the sleep apnea thing the FAA dreamed up. Speedy approval by the FAA has only worked for Eclipse and that one backfired on them.

      #101839
      quote EPANNING:

      I think the best path for GAMI and Swift would be license agreements with existing distributors like Exxon, etc who will now be looking for adoptable technology to counter Shell’s announcement.

      GAMI’s approach (which as been received with a flat out “NO!” by the oil companies) has been basically this. They aren’t an oil company and never will be, but they’ve developed a formula. It’s either a patent or a trade secret, I don’t recall which. They want to sell it to the oil companies and receive royalties of something like $0.01/gallon. Do the math, they’d be able to retire tomorrow. Last I heard, GAMI won’t submit to ASTM for a spec, because then anyone can produce the fuel to that spec, so that makes the fuel unapproveable. One of my first trips in the 310 was going down to GAMI relative to G100UL.

      Swift is actually looking to build an infrastructure, and it may be able to do that, especially if it partners with groups like ERAU or UND. Or at least a mini-infrastructure for those guys.

      #101840
      quote RWELSH:

      Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with Shell’s news release although the part I read on AvWeb that caught my attention was when Shell said they expect a rapid approval from the FAA and SAE. Maybe we could get rapid approval if Congress passes a specific bill for it like Congress had to do with Part 23 easier certification and possibly the sleep apnea thing the FAA dreamed up. Speedy approval by the FAA has only worked for Eclipse and that one backfired on them.

      From the release, it sounded like they’ve actually already been doing a decent amount of testing. If Lycoming and Piper are in on it, then the FAA already knows about it and has probably run it in the tech center. I’d also assume that they’re on their way to producing the ASTM spec or something of the sort.

      #101845
      quote RWELSH:

      Eric, I could not tell if you were grinning with sarcasm when you wrote this. Since when have fuel companies worried about competition? I think gas wars went out in the late 50s.

      Huh?!

      Fuel manufacturers are quite concerned about competition, especially in the specialty fuels market.

      No way that Shell will end up being the only company who produces a 100LL replacement – that’s a monopoly.

      I think the FAA (or congress) should just say “any fuel that meets the ASTM spec is hereby authorized for any aircraft engine which is authorized for 100LL today”. Yeah, I know it’s a touch more complicated than that, but it’s just plain stupid that the hold up may end up being a regulatory issue.

      Robert

      #101847
      quote RCJOHNSON:

      I think the FAA (or congress) should just say “any fuel that meets the ASTM spec is hereby authorized for any aircraft engine which is authorized for 100LL today”. Yeah, I know it’s a touch more complicated than that, but it’s just plain stupid that the hold up may end up being a regulatory issue.

      Here’s my perspective from my time in the industry and working on this issue a bit.

      The FAA does not certify fuels. The FAA certifies engines that are designed by OEMs. The OEMs specify which fuels are allowed for a particular engine model. A minimum spec fuel needs to be tested (the primary test of concern is detonation as well as 150-hour endurance). The fuel needs to have a spec of some sort, and that’s historically been an ASTM spec. If you had an ASTM spec for moonshine and could certify the engine to run on it, that would be fine. Typically, we’ve seen 100LL (previously 100/130), 80/87 (no more), 91/96, and a few other aviation grade fuels certified in engines.

      The issue is that the current ASTM spec (D910) won’t be met by the next fuel. So the real question comes down to having a fuel formula that is still compatible and meets the important parts we need, and also looking at single fuel solution. Lycoming has been approving MoGas (93 UL) for some of its lower power engines. That may have some use for the pilot mills, but won’t help us.

      The reason the FAA is involved now has a few purposes. Part of it is to make sure that a solution is driven to at all. Another part is to help drive to a solution that fits the legacy fleet. I can say with reasonable certainty that Lycoming wouldn’t do much of anything on their own, and Continental’s approach seemed to be endorsing 94UL, which I have low confidence would work in (G)TSIO-520s. It didn’t even work very well in the TSIO-550 they were claiming. The FAA’s involvement also gives a means of keeping the EPA at bay and helps ensure that we won’t be stuck without a fuel. Not a guarantee, but helps.

      I don’t foresee a regulatory issue being the problem, I think hold ups will be more of business issues. That’s been the hold up with G100UL, in my opinion. It also has the issue of having slightly less detonation resistance at lean mixtures (so if 100LL is 100/130 for lean/rich, G100UL is more like 95/140 as I recall), which doesn’t make it a real drop-in equivalent.

      #101849

      Thanks for posting, Ted. This will be an interesting issue. I haven’t “pulled the trigger” on an airplane purchase yet, still watching several. I haven’t thought about future fuel availability … maybe I should, but Shell’s entry is encouraging. My goal is at least 10 more years of flying.

      ps, about a foot of snow in the last storm. Things got “western” Tues. AM driving the mother-in-law to SLC for her flight back to Akron. Minus 10degF this morning. Comin’ your way πŸ™‚

      #101851
      quote RCLOVER:

      I haven’t “pulled the trigger” on an airplane purchase yet, still watching several. I haven’t thought about future fuel availability … maybe I should…

      I remember fretting about fuel availability when I purchased my 210 almost 10 years ago. This threat has been hanging out there for a long time – avgas (or something functionally similar) will be around for a long time.

      Robert

      #101852

      Sounds like fun weather out west, Rich. I’ve had the gripe with Ohio that there is no personality in the weather out here. But I think I’ll throw the studded snow tires on my car tonight. πŸ™‚

      As far as fuel availability goes, the main question I’d have would be looking for something that could accept MoGas rather than 100LL. As I recall you were looking at turbo singles, and I don’t think those will get outside of 100LL or an equivalent thereof. However Lycoming recently approved 93UL on the parallel valve 540s (like what you’d find in a Comanche 250/260). There are also the various experimentals out there.

      Just some thoughts. I agree with Robert that 100LL or an equivalent will be around for a long time. My primary interest in different fuels is from the perspective of cost savings. Or, if I went Jet A, availability abroad.

      #101869

      Yeah, I agree, I’ll not worry about the fuel. Time will tell about the Shell …

      ps, Ted, waiting for a train to clear the crossing at the bottom of the airport hill, 10:30 this morning, clear blue sky, temp was minus 18degF. I would have needed the engine heaters 😯

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