This paper highlights the recent work carried out at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) in the development of novel synthetic fuels geared towards the aviation industry's utilization. The research activities implemented involve a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration between academia and industry, which was facilitated by QF through funding provided by the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and Rolls-Royce. This project utilizes the expertise of academia in fundamental research and the R&D expertise of world leading industrial firms (Shell and Rolls-Royce).

The broad objective of the project is to upgrade Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) based fuels to meet the standards and properties as required by the aviation industry. The work done by our group at TAMUQ is concerned with formulating and testing GTL derived jet fuels for their suitability as replacements for kerosene. The SPK fuels being developed play an important role in the diversification of Qatar's natural gas resources, while also being guided by Qatar Airways inspiration on becoming the world leader in alternative clean fuel utilization.

This paper specifically looks at the relationship between the chemical compositions of SPKs and their physical properties. The chemical groups that compose SPK are normal-, iso- and cyclo- paraffins. The role these paraffins had on jet fuel properties (e.g. density, freezing point, flash point, etc…) were tested and correlated with their hydrocarbon composition. TAMUQ built a world-class Fuel Characterization Laboratory to conduct experimental investigations aimed at developing a wide array of blends using a diverse portfolio of solvents and base chemicals. The experimental data provide a basis for developing statistical models for composition vs. property relationships. Of the properties tested, the freezing point relationship was the most interesting as it showed high nonlinearity over wide range of compositions. Furthermore, a unique aspect of the freezing point testing protocol was the capturing of images of the fuel crystals as it showed a variety of crystal shapes based on blend profiles. A key aspect of the further planned studies is the inclusion of important new chemical groups such as aromatics in the preparation of blends.


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