Jet engines to become cleaner in future

February 26, 2016
Aircraft engines emit soot. Credit: Charlie Atterbury, Seattle

Thanks to a close collaboration between the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), SR Technics and the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), Switzerland is setting an international benchmark by developing a method for measuring emissions of fine particulate matter from aircraft engines. The Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently approved a preliminary standard governing the emission of particulates by aircraft engines.

Since the 1980s, large aircraft engines have been required to meet emission limits that have been gradually tightened over time. Air traffic, therefore, contributes relatively little to Switzerland's pollution levels, and visible smoke trails in the sky from jet engines are a thing of the past. However, no-one has yet found a solution to the emission of ultra-fine particles from . These microscopically small particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and thus adversely affect health. As a precautionary measure, these emissions from will now also be measured, regulated and reduced, even though air traffic produces less than 1 percent of Switzerland's fine particulate emissions.

From a technical standpoint, measuring ultra-fine combustion particles is extremely complex. As part of a close collaboration between Empa, SR Technics and FOCA experts have spent years developing a standard test setup and method that can be used to measure fine particulate emissions from . Both the measuring system and the corresponding instruments were tested by way of international cam-paigns until they were considered ready for deployment. The measuring system gives the mass of the particulate matter as well as the number of particles emitted per liter of fuel. It even captures the smallest particles with diameters of less than a hundred-thousandth of a millimeter.

The work on this new global standard was led by FOCA in partnership with the US aviation authority. On 2 February in Montreal, the ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection approved the new standard, which relies heavily on contributions by FOCA, SR Technics and Empa. Final approval of the standard is expected by the ICAO Council in one year.

All engine types for passenger aircraft that are in production as of 1 January 2020 must be certified in accordance with the new standard. Most engine manufacturers have already developed their own measuring systems that comply with the standard and have started re-measuring their engines. Technologies are also emerging that will further reduce the emission of fine particulates.

Explore further: UN agency proposes greenhouse gas emissions rules for planes

Related Stories

UN agency proposes greenhouse gas emissions rules for planes

February 8, 2016

A U.N. panel on Monday proposed long-sought greenhouse gas emissions standards for airliners and cargo planes, drawing praise from the White House and criticism from environmentalists who said they would be too weak to actually ...

Testing diesel engines

October 6, 2015

A team at The University of Manchester is testing a Volkswagen diesel engine to try to get an accurate picture of how polluting it is.

Diesel vehicles and pollution in Ireland

January 19, 2016

Researchers from the Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are teaming up to assess the extent of damaging particulate emissions coming from diesel vehicles in Ireland. These emissions are ...

Recommended for you

Hot spot at Hawaii? Not so fast

August 18, 2017

Through analysis of volcanic tracks, Rice University geophysicists have concluded that hot spots like those that formed the Hawaiian Islands aren't moving as fast as recently thought.

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up

August 16, 2017

Flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet is likely to speed up in the future, despite a recent slowdown, because its outlet glaciers slide over wet sediment, not hard rock, new research based on seismic surveys has confirmed. This ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MP3Car
5 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2016
A little odd to show a picture that shows emissions that aren't even close to the current technology, or even what we had years ago... It's sort of like an article, "Cell phones to become smaller in the future" and show a 'bag phone' for the photo.

Maybe an engine in a test fixture would have been better?

http://www.pddnet...lery.jpg
http://img.youtub...7Q/0.jpg
http://gereports....ne22.gif
gkam
1 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
Looks like a very early Boeing. Ever seen an old loaded Buff (B-52), on takeoff using water injection?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.