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Published:March 10th, 2013 12:56 EST
NASA Says Time For Alternative Fuel Now?

NASA Says Time For Alternative Fuel Now?

By Ron G Anselm

"Finding new ways when it comes to alternative fuels for our country to not be dependent on other countries for energy sources is the only way for us to be self-sufficient and not be at the mercy of paying high gas prices."  (Anselm, R.)

For now, we are stuck depending on the Middle East for supplying us with fuel and barrels of oil. This means we are at the mercy of paying their high cost and for being in a position to get raped at the pump as each of us still feel the pain of having to gas our cars up. The pinch is in our wallets and if you are like me, every time I drive by my local Chevron station and see the cost of regular gasoline rising like the temperature raises in a pot of boiling water, my internal temperature rises to the point I want to blow. Maybe it`s my German temper or maybe since we have been feeling the pinch of the high-cost of gasoline and sort of feeling trapped at having to pay those high prices because most of us do still need to use our cars for necessary transportation we are tired of it. 

Gasoline prices over the past few years has been like a bumpy roller coaster ride; one minute the prices are at their highest peak and then another minute they roll down a little lower like a roller coaster rolling down a short track and then Whoops! Suddenly like a roller coaster ride the gas prices are once again at their highest point. Makes me feel nauseated just writing about it.

Now, NASA is getting on the ball and doing experiments and research on using alternative fuels for the aviation industry.  An experimental series of flights using NASA`s DC-8 flying laboratory is currently being used to study the effects of alternate biofuel on engine performance, the emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitude.

I am looking at it this way, at least NASA is now starting to research alternative fuel sources and if now for the aviation industry then probably what will be next is research for us daily commuters in our cars and alternative fuel sources for internal combustion engines. There is research in the process for this going on elsewhere but if NASA takes the bull by the horns and leads the chase on this the alternative fuel sources being research should become a reality, thus no more high gas prices; hopefully.

The research on the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS) involves flying NASA`s DC-8 at altitudes as high as 40,000 feet while a NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind the DC-8 at distances between three-hundred feet to ten miles.

Ruben Del Rosario who is the manager of NASA`s Fixed Wing Project commented on this by saying, "We believe this study will improve understanding of contrails formation and quantify potential benefits of renewable alternate fuels in terms of aviation`s impact on the environment." (Del Rosario, R.)

During the flights of NASA`s DC-8 four CFM56 engines will be powered by a conventional JP-8 jet fuel or powered with a 50/50 blend of JP-8 and another alternative fuel source made up of hydro processed esters and fatty acids that come from Camelina plants. If this research passes the tests by NASA then a camelina plant could become our next resource for the manufacturing of alternative fuel sources in the future.

The operation of the research and testing will involve a dozen instruments to be mounted on the Falcon jet which will test and characterize the soot and gasses that stream from the DC-8 as it flies and the fuels in burned. The testing will be centered on the way the exhaust plumes change in the composition as they mix with the air and then investigate the role the emissions play in contrail formation. This research will take about tree-weeks to complete and gather all the data and information learned from it. NASA is planning a second set of ACCESS flight which is scheduled for some time in 2014. This may be the time that NASA extends into the testing of overall alternative fuels sources for every engine not just the effects of aviation impact on the environment for alternative fuel sources.

So, unless you were like me growing-up and riding a skateboard, walking, riding the bus, riding my bike to get around then for now until NASA takes the alternative fuel sources to the next level and we are no longer dependent on the Middle Eastern countries for oil then we are all going to have to trim the fat, give up the not so necessities like cable television and tough it out to be able to save money to pay for the roller coaster ride of the pricing of gasoline to be able to drive our cars to get around. Or, you could always buy a scooter or moped which would really cut the cost of gas and help your wallet stay a little fatter but who wants to ride a scooter or moped to work in the early morning when the temperatures are below freezing? Not me, I hate cold weather and love my cars rabid heater to warm my numb body up as I roll on down the highway in Hyundai style.

                                                                       Reference

NASA BEGINS FLIGHT RESEARCH CAMPAIGN USING ALTERNATE JET FUEL, (http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov) Retrieved 2013.

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