National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Alternative Fuels Rig



The Alternative Fuels Rig consists of two research labs used to investigate Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis and to evaluate the alternative fuel thermal stability. Synthesized fuel composition affects thermal stability, emission, combustion, and storage characteristics; and the fuel composition is affected by the feed syn-gas composition (H2-CO) variation and their interaction with iron and cobalt catalyst.

This screening facility has a second lab equipped with a hot liquid process simulator (HLPS) capable of determining breakpoints of jet fuels and alternative fuels per ASTM-D3241. Fuel thermal stability is a critical aviation fuel property in achieving high efficiency future engine design that favors higher operating temperature and pressure.


  • Improve F-T synthesis yields and energy efficiency by conducting kinetic studies of innovative catalysts
  • Improve catalyst life and performance by evaluating catalyst activation procedures
  • Quantify alternative aviation fuels’ thermal stability by determining breakpoints
  • User-friendly data base with alternative fuels chemi-physical properties
  • Autoclave Reactor: Agitated 1-L volume with 2.4 KWe jacket heater; ASME U-stamped certified pressure vessel rated for 6000 psig @ 650oF
  • Agilent 6890N Capillary GC: analyze hydrocarbons from C5 through C50s
  • Agilent 3000 Micro GC Refinery Gas analyzer: Analyzes CO, H2 and light gas products (C1 through C8)
  • HLPS: Measure fuel thermal stability by determining fuel breakpoint per ASTM-D3241 up to 650oC, and max operating pressure of 850 psig. Allowable fuel flow rate range of 0.25 to 5 ml/min.

Research Projects

  • Aeronautics Fundamental, Sub-sonic fixed-wing (SFW), Fundamental Experiments
  • NASA Research Announcement (NRA) Grant – University of Kentucky, Center for Applied Energy Research

Potential Uses

  • Conduct preliminary catalyst screening using a fixed-bed reactor
  • Perform catalyst life studies

Point of Contact: Angela Surgenor, 216-433-3251; Jennifer Suder, 216-433-6095; Judy Yen, 216-433-3626