LyondellBasell Clarifies ASTM Status

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LyondellBasell has confirmed that it is still actively pursuing approval through the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative for an unleaded aviation gasoline it is developing with VP Racing. As we reported on Thursday, LyondellBasell (we incorrectly called it Lyondell) did receive critiques in its first submission of a test specification to ASTM International for UL100E. LyondellBasell spokesman Dan Pourreau said the story raised questions among some about whether it had paused the process. Pourreau told AVweb responding to the critiques is part of the ASTM process and it will be done as expeditiously as possible and offered the following by way of explanation.

“LyondellBasell has not paused or suspended our efforts to obtain an ASTM test fuel specification. We continue to pursue ASTM certification for our UL100E unleaded fuel through the normal balloting process. We balloted a test fuel specification and research report on UL100E in May for the first time and the ballot closed on June 9, a week before the ASTM meeting. The ballot received 65 affirmative votes, 5 negative votes and 228 abstentions for a 93% affirmative rate.   

“Since our first ballot received a negative comment on our proposed color method that we found persuasive and others we are still reviewing, we withdrew the ballot to make the correction and reach out to the other commenters. This is the standard procedure for making even minor changes to specifications. We will ballot a revised test fuel specification and research report for additional review and comment from the ASTM community as soon as we review the other comments and reach out to their authors. Since an ASTM specification is a required element of PAFI fleet authorization, we are committed to obtaining both as expeditiously as possible.” 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I really like Geoge Braly and Gami and what they are trying to do, but the LyondellBasell fuel just might end up being the best choice BECAUSE of the VP Racing connection. IF we could expand the market for UL100E to the Powersports / Motorsports market and move say 28 times as much fuel volume through sales at Sunoco stations, we just might be able to keep the cost down and the profit high enough to be worth doing for the refiner. Of course the stuff would need separate supply chains and marketing names but they could blend one product and sell it as UL100E at the airport and “VP102 Race Fuel” lead & ethanol free at the gas station. Making something less niche than avgas makes a lot of sense. I don’t care as long as I can get it!

  2. “I don’t care as long as I can get it!” That statement alone would probably cover 90 % of us.
    Couldn’t agree more.

    • “I don’t care as long as I can get it!”

      Did you forget to add “at a reasonable price”?

      Then we can debate what is reasonable.

  3. In what world does 65 ‘Yes’ votes out of a possible 298 voters equal a 93% approval rate? Obviously if 228 voters abstained, there has to be some issue with the fuel that they aren’t willing to cast a vote yet. And if ASTM approval can be gotten with that many members not voting, I’d say the process is a joke.

    • Have to remember ASTM has lots of branches of expertise in fuels and oils, and not everyone is an expert in every area. Having served on industry standards boards like this, some member don’t participate until upstream approvals are in place. eg. Distribution members aren’t as focused until the refinery or functional technical work is approved.

  4. The ASTM aviation fuels committee, DO2, is one of the oldest in ASTM. As a member and sitting on a number of committees it is very common to abstain on a ballot. This could be as simple as it is not my field of expertise. As an engine specialist I really don’t care about the color of the fuel, but others have reasons to not want it or want it. The process is very fair and a consensus is obtained. In a first round of ballots to get only a few negative votes is very positive and shows the overall document is sound. All negatives have to be voted on to accept or reject the reasoning of the person from the ballot.

    • Okay, Eric, if you are on the committee, then perhaps you could educate us as to how the whole process works. It seems there is a lot of misunderstanding in the pilot community about the actual role ASTM plays in getting a product like an unleaded Avgas “certified”. First and foremost, does ASTM actually conduct any testing of an applicant product, or do they just specify what testing they want to see done, and then review the data provided by the applicant when the testing is completed? Next, what protections, if any, does the ASTM review process provide to an applicant to guarantee that any and all proprietary materials or production methods (which are under active or pending patent protection) will not be revealed to a potential competitor on the committee? And finally, does ASTM have any direct connection to the FAA such that their certification is necessary for the FAA to approve a product, such as a fuel for aircraft use? I would really appreciate some insight to the whole process to help us all better understand it. Thanks.

      • ASTM doesn’t certify the fuel; it specifies it’s properties and some relevant compositional parameters. ASTM doesn’t conduct any testing either but it provides guidance in ASTM D7826 on what tests should be performed to justify test and production fuel specifications. Protecting proprietary information is the responsibility of the owner, not ASTM. Revealing proprietary compositions or production methods is not required to obtain a fuel specification. Lastly, FAA and ASTM are independent and an ASTM fuel specification is only required if the applicant is seeking fleet authorization via the PAFI certification process.

        • Thank you for the explanation. It clears up a lot. But one question remains. Does each unleaded fuel formulation under consideration need to have its own ASTM specification? In other words, would G100UL have a different spec than UL100E? As I understand it, there is only one spec for 100LL, even though each producer can vary the content (within limits) so that their blend is unique. Is that the goal of ASTM for unleaded fuel?

  5. The short answer is “no”. The STC process doesn’t require ASTM specification for the fuel. This gives the fuel offerer much more latitude to deviate from ASTM D910. the goal of ASTM is to provide a consensus forum for standard development. It has no specific goals other than that.

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