Press Release

NASA Funds Reaction Design to Advance Alternative Jet Fuels

By SpaceRef Editor
July 1, 2007
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Reaction Design, the leader in clean combustion simulation technology, has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop fuel models for simulating the operation of jet engines with alternative fuels. The project will focus on providing needed tools for accurate simulation of combustion of Fischer-Tropsch fuels and biofuels in jet engines, with applications for both commercial and military jet engines.

The project’s key objective is to develop a comprehensive set of fundamental data on the combustion of alternative jet fuels, using a surrogate fuel approach. The results will provide guidance to the planning and design of optimal fuel-production processes. Fischer-Tropsch fuels are produced from hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be developed from either coal or biomass fuel stocks. The United States possesses large coal reserves and clean technology processes that convert coal into liquid fuels, such as Fischer-Tropsch, aim to take advantage of abundant coal and agricultural resources and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Both the understanding of detailed chemistry and the processing power of computers have greatly increased in the last decade, enabling accurate simulation of combustion for enhanced, clean-technology design. Petroleum fuels, such as kerosene, contain hundreds of different hydrocarbon species that all contribute in specific ways towards ignition, flame propagation and pollutant formation. The traditional technique of simulating these fuels using empirically derived chemistry parameters does not provide the accurate emissions predictions nor the necessary detail required for use in design and optimization. Thus, the development of accurate surrogate fuel models for use in chemical kinetic simulations is a critical step toward enabling computer-aided engine and fuel design for petroleum and alternative fuels alike.

The two-year project will be led by Reaction Design with experimental support from researchers at the University of Southern California. Detailed chemical kinetics models will be developed and validated with experimental data to allow prediction of important parameters related to ignition, extinction, and pollutant formation for Fischer-Tropsch fuels and biofuels.

“This project is a critical step in enabling the production and use of non-petroleum based fuels for jet engines and reducing our country’s dependence on oil for commercial and military air transportation,” said Reaction Design Marketing Director, Scott Drennan.

About Reaction Design

Reaction Design helps transportation manufacturers and energy companies rapidly achieve their Clean Technology goals by automating the analysis of chemical processes via simulation and modeling solutions. Reaction Design is the exclusive developer and distributor of CHEMKIN, the de facto standard for modeling gas-phase and surface chemistry that provides engineers ultra-fast access to reliable answers that save time and money in the development process. Reaction Design also offers the KINetics software package, which brings detailed kinetics modeling to other engineering applications, such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programs. Reaction Design’s world-class engineers, chemists and programmers have expertise that spans multi-scale engineering from the molecule to the plant. Reaction Design serves more than 350 customers in the commercial, government and academic markets. Reaction Design can be found online at

CHEMKIN® and Reaction Design® are registered trademarks of Reaction Design and KINetics is a trademark of Reaction Design.


Reaction Design
Scott Drennan, 858-550-1920 x 206


McClenahan Bruer Communications
James McIntyre, 503-546-1016

SpaceRef staff editor.