A New Fuel Breakthrough? G100UL

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As the industry continues to wring its hands about a replacement for soon-to-be-extinct 100LL, an Oklahoma-based modification house says it has a fuel worth looking into. George Braly of General Aviation Modifications Inc. told us Friday that his company has run a promising new fuel in its test cell that's at least 100 octane or better. The fuel appears to have good anti-detonation characteristics and, on paper at least, would be in range of meeting ASTM D910, the avgas fuel specification. So what is this stuff? Braly declined to offer details other than to say the new fuel is based on 95-octane blend stock with an additive that's not lead but that might be obtainable economically through conventional refining processes.

Is it some offshoot of Swift Fuel, the much lauded but so far non-existent bio-fuel announced a couple of years ago? Nope, says, Braly, nothing to do with Swift Fuel. Oil industry insiders have consistently said petrochemical-based octane enhancers are chemically feasible. Indeed, Swift Fuel is just that—a bio-derived material that uses acetone as a feedstock to make an enhanced isopentane fuel. What has stymied such efforts in the past—and indeed, may yet kill Swift Fuel—is the economics. If the additive can't deliver 100-octane fuel at a price similar to tetraethyl lead, the whole exercise is just another chemistry experiment. Braly said Friday that he's filed a patent on the process and that it's being shopped to the refinery industry to flesh out the economics. Meanwhile, Braly said the fuel will be ready for wider demonstration in about a month.