There has been talk for years of "alternative fuels" and the impact that lead in all forms has upon the environment – ask any resident of Los Angeles at rush hour to see if gas emissions are a problem. One company that has been steadily making strides in this particular field is Swift Fuels, LLC, based out of West Lafayette, Indiana.
We met with Jon Ziulkowski, Vice-President of Commercial Operations, at Oshkosh this year. He was showing off a Cessna 150M that Swift Fuels has been flying for over two years on their patented unleaded 102+ motor octane (MON) Swift Fuel (100SF), a hydrocarbon blended fuel, specifically designed to replace 100LL Avgas. While the 150M has been reclassified Experimental, pilots won’t be expected to make this change themselves – the 150M was re-certificated for proof-of-concept purposes. Once their FAA certification is complete, Swift Fuels will be able to be used interchangeably.
"The primary benefit to Swift Fuels is that it is 100% unleaded, eliminating lead emissions in the atmosphere," explained Ziulkowski. "Another benefit is that there is no change in operation or performance, and it does not require you to put in a new fuel tank, or different corrosion proof materials throughout your engine. The 102 MON closely mimics 100LL – any aircraft flying today on low lead can easily make the transition to Swift Fuel." Other benefits include 7-15% improved range (MPG) over 100LL, lower deposits, less engine wear and tear, and potentially longer TBOs. And since the fuel components can be derived from a variety of biological sources – including sugars, starches, lignin, bio-waste and more – it has the potential to be a renewable fuel as well.
Swift Fuels began as a special collaboration between chemical engineering and aviation expertise at their offices adjacent to Purdue University. Beginning in 2005, several hundred samples were blended in small quantities and tested in the laboratory and through computer modeling software to find an unleaded replacement fuel for 100LL. From 2007 to early 2008, testing began to expand outside of Swift’s laboratories, and tests were conducted on small engines at the Delphi Municipal Airport (1I9). On April 16, 2008, SwiftFuel Sample 702, now called 100SF, was proven to meet all of the critical performance parameters set forth for aviation gasoline by ASTM D910.
To ensure the worldwide acceptance and use of SwiftFuel, Swift has taken the very important step of establishing a subsidiary in Europe, an ongoing process since late 2010. In January 2011, Swift Fuel GmbH was established as a registered company in Germany.
100SF fuel is to be balloted for "Production Specification" by the ASTM Fuel Task Force in the next 90 days. After that, engine and aircraft companies will be collaborating on the timing of the announcements for using 100SF fuel. Once the fuel is certified by both engine and aircraft companies, it can be purchased and used in the aviation marketplace. Swift Fuels believes pockets of availability of their fuel will appear in early 2014, and, as demand increases, they expect a much larger population of pilots will utilize their fuel in 2015 and beyond.
To learn more about Swift Fuels and 100SF, visit their website at https://swiftfuels.com/.