Shell claims green advance for aircraft fuel

Fuel additive being tested by KLM promises significant efficiency increase, says company

A jet fuel additive being tested by Dutch national airline KLM could improve aircraft fuel efficiency by several percentage points according to Shell Aviation, which markets the product outside the US. The efficiency gain is small in comparison with much larger improvements achieved over the past 30 years due to changes in engine design and aircraft construction, but is notable for being the first real contribution from jet fuel formulation, the company adds.

"Jet fuel has not changed significantly since the 1960s, [unlike] motor gasoline. But we are now entering a new era, when the fuel itself is coming under increasing scrutiny," Mike Farmery of Shell told ENDS Daily. KLM says that if the additive performs as expected, then it will be adopted on all flights "as soon as possible".

The international airline industry is under the political spotlight because booming demand is causing its greenhouse gas emissions to rise faster than any other major sector, despite efficiency improvements (ENDS Daily 1 December 1999). Even the relatively small gain promised by Shell's new additive could, if used worldwide, have a "big impact," said a KLM spokesperson.

Shell has released few details of the nature of the additive, other than that its "dispersant/ detergent chemistry" enhances performance by keeping the inside of jet engines clean.

Follow Up:
KLM, tel: +31 20 649 9123, press release; Shell Aviation, tel: +44 20 75 46 43 19.

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