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Conference explores options for alternative aircraft fuels

Nov. 6, 1997

By Brian Allison

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

The aviation sciences department and its Renewable Aviation Fuels Development Center (RAFDC) will present the second International Conference on Alternative Aviation Fuels today through Saturday.

Today and Friday, scientists from the United States, Europe and Australia will give lectures and participate in panel discussions in the Barfield Drawing Room.

Saturday, alternative-fueled aircraft will fly at an air show at Texas State Technical College.

The purpose of the conference is to promote the use of cleaner, renewable fuels in aircraft and environmentally friendlier airports.

Speakers at the conference include Plinio Nastari of the World Energy Council; Randall Friedi of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Admiral Richard Truly, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Rudolf Voit-Nitschmann, Institute Fur Flugzeugbau Universitat Stuttgart, Germany and Jan Brecht-Clark, acting director for Research for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. and Waco Mayor Mike Morrison will also address the conference.

'We would like to get as many of the Baylor faculty and students to come and hear the lectures,' said Dr. Max Shauck, director of aviation sciences. 'These are issues that anyone, especially university students, should be interested in.'

Shauck himself is an expert on alternatively powered aircraft, having flown more than 2,500 hours in renewable fuel-powered aircraft, including the first transatlantic flight in an aircraft powered by alcohol fuel.

Currently, aircraft use petroleum-based fuels, which have come under criticism because of their limited supply and polluting by-products. Avgas, the current aviation fuel, also contains lead, which is released into the atmosphere when Avgas is burned. Because airplanes use much of their fuel in the higher levels of the atmosphere, pollution from an airplane engine is 40 times more hazardous than an equal amount from a car engine.

Renewable fuels are made from plants or industrial and agricultural waste. Renewable fuels do not have a limited supply, and when burned, do not give off polluting byproducts.

Another advantage of renewable fuels is that they have a smoother, cleaner burn than Avgas. The improved burn makes engines more reliable and doubles the amount of time between engine overhauls, which are a major expense for aircraft owners.

Registration for the conference is from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday in Barfield Drawing Room. The $300 registration fee will be waived for students and faculty.

The sessions in Barfield last from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday. Saturday's airshow and facility tour will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and will end at noon.

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