Swift Enterprises, Purdue to partner on aviation projects, test unleaded fuel

October 26, 2010

National Test Facility for Fuels and Propulsion (NaTeF) principal investigator David Stanley, from left, Swift Enterprises researcher Evan Durako and NaTeF co-principal investigators Denver Lopp and Mark Thom stand by a Lycoming TIO-540-J2BD engine at the Niswonger Aviation Technology Building at the Purdue Airport. An agreement between Swift Enterprises and Purdue University allows researchers to test Swift's bio-based general aviation fuel in various projects, including another at the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Swift Enterprises Ltd. has entered into an agreement that will allow Purdue University researchers to test the company's unleaded, renewable general aviation fuel during various projects. Swift is developing its fuel to replace 100LL, the most commonly used fuel in the general aviation sector.

Test operations with SwiftFuel recently were conducted at Purdue University utilizing six aviation piston engines provided by the National Test Facility for Fuels and Propulsion (NaTeF). These included a Lycoming TIO-540-J2BD, the highest octane-demand engine currently manufactured, and a Ranger L-440 built in 1933, which, at 65 octane, is one of the lowest octane-demand engines in use. The tests were performed by Evan Durako, a Swift Enterprises researcher, with Professor Mike Davis, a faculty researcher with NaTeF, providing independent observations.

NaTeF is a research facility housed in the Department of Aviation Technology, headed by Professor David Stanley (principal investigator), Professor Denver Lopp (co-principal investigator), Professor Mark Thom (co-principal investigator) and aviation technology faculty members.

Stanley, an associate professor of aeronautical engineering technology, said the testing may prove beneficial for the general aviation sector.

"SwiftFuel appears promising as a replacement for 100 low-lead general aviation fuel, which is under pressure from several groups -- including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- to be discontinued due to the fact that it contains a known carcinogen," he said. "These initial tests with Swift have been confined to piston engine installations that burn general aviation gasoline, but future testing and research may expand to the study of new turbine fuels to replace Jet-A, the fuel that powers all commercial airliners."

Mary-Louise Rusek, co-founder and president of Swift Enterprises, which is based at the Purdue Research Park, said NaTeF is another resource to accommodate Swift's needs to perform valid independent tests and collect data.

"The performance runs overseen by the NaTeF team are producing data that support our findings about SwiftFuel on engine performance," she said.

Another research project being conducted under the agreement is the use of SwiftFuel in a Beechcraft Duchess light twin aircraft used as the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR) by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. ALAR currently is funded by NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop the capability to measure fluxes of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Testing included two days of paired flights under similar atmospheric conditions, which allowed for a good head-to-head comparison of SwiftFuel and 100LL under actual flight conditions.

Paul Shepson, principal investigator and head of Purdue's Department of Chemistry, said the tests compared the fuels' performance, acceleration and operational differences on the ground and in the air.

"SwiftFuel performed very well during the tests," he said. "I was unable to discern any significant difference in performance between SwiftFuel and 100LL during the in-flight tests."

Rusek said Purdue's standing as a top university in aviation technology and research will strengthen Swift Enterprises' mission to create an unleaded, renewable and sustainable fuel to replace 100LL.

"We are pleased that Purdue University, NaTeF and the Climate Change Research Center have agreed to help us in our work to find a clean, better fuel for the future," she said.

The agreement between Swift Enterprises and Purdue runs through April 2012 and is renewable upon mutual agreement.

About NaTeF

The National Test Facility for Fuels and Propulsion  is funded by a $2.7 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force and is housed in the Niswonger Aviation Technology Building at the Purdue Airport. The mission of NaTeF is to improve the technology of fuels and propulsion. To serve that purpose, the engine testcell capabilities are being upgraded to include advanced data acquistion and exhaust emissions systems for both turbine and piston engine applications. A materials testing laboratory also is under development as part of NaTeF to enable testing and evaluation of the effects of fuels on gaskets, o-ring, seals and components in the fuel system. NaTeF, both for its research and testing functions and for the faculty members actively involved with the effort, significantly enhances the already-impressive and wide-ranging capabilities of Purdue University for fuels research.

About the Purdue Climate Change Research Center

The Purdue Climate Change Research Center was established in April 2004 to serve as a crucible for interdisciplinary research on climate change and its ecological, social, economic, and political impacts. The PCCRC is built on a foundation of scientific excellence, interdisciplinary perspective, and the momentum generated by a new, multi-departmental faculty hiring plan. We invite you to learn more about PCCRC activities, explore potential collaborations, and help us identify new ways to enhance the realization of our goal of excellence in climate change discovery, learning, and engagement.

About Swift Enterprises Ltd.

Established in 2001, Swift Enterprises works with novel chemicals as new components in energy conversion devices. Swift brings a combination of military, academic and private enterprise experience to the practical research and development of propulsion, ordnance and power technologies. In the mid-1980s, the company's founders worked at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where they conducted research on rockets and rocket fuel for the government. Swift Enterprises has completed research for Lockheed-Martin Astronautics, DARPA, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.

About Purdue Research Park

The Purdue Research Park has the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country in four locations across Indiana. The parks are home to about 200 companies that employ 4,000 people and are located in West Lafayette, Merrillville, Indianapolis and New Albany.

Purdue Research Park contact:
Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Mary-Louise Rusek, 765-464-8336, mary.rusek@swiftenterprises.com
Paul Shepson, 765-494-7441, pshepson@purdue.edu
David Stanley, 765-494-6266, dlstanley@purdue.edu