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Mobility and Systems

Where aviation fuels are concerned... compromise is the name of the game

In the aviation sector, fuels derived from hydrotreated vegetable oils (HEFAa) are seen as an alternative to petroleum based Jet A-1b to reduce the environmental footprint of air transport.
However, the use of these primarily paraffinic alternative fuels may generate problems related to circuit impermeability. To avoid this issue, a minimum aromatic content is needed, since aromatics are absorbed by polymer seals, ensuring their expansion. However, the quantity of these compounds needs to remain limited since they cause deposits and pollutant formation.
The optimization of the formulation of synthetic aviation fuels was the focus of the CAERc project. A dedicated experimental research program was conducted on:

  • materials compatibility tests,
  • thermal stability tests,
  • and oxidation resistance tests(1).

Using cutting-edge techniques, IFPEN’s teams thus investigated the various mechanisms involved in thermal and oxidation stability, also combining measurements on real fuels and model fluids. The latter were produced from a HEFA-type paraffin base, to which aromatics (xylene or tetraline) were added at various concentrations.
Finally the need to have aromatics present to swell the seals was confirmed, with an effect equivalent to that produced by Jet A-1 fuel for the addition of 10% v/v of either one of the compounds tested.
Optimal compositions were also identified for oxidation and thermal stability.

Ultimately, the results suggest that a formulation favoring monocyclic aromatics such as 10% xylene v/v represents the best compromise for all of the properties studied(2).
The work is continuing in order to expand the database in terms of chemical compounds, and with a view to develop a predictive modeling approach which determines properties vs composition relationships.


a - Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids.
b - Fuel used in the aviation sector.
c - Alternative fuels for the aviation sector, coordinated by IFPEN.


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Published in Science@ifpen n° 32 - March 2018


  1. A. Ben Amara, M.-H. Klopffer, B. Veyrat, L. Starck, International Congress and Expo on Biofuels & Bioenergy, August 29-31, 2016 Sao Paulo, Brésil. 
  2. A. Ben Amara, M.-H. Klopffer, M. Alves Fortunato, L. Starck, Optimal jet fuel composition with stability and improved oxidation. Patent WO 2017/050687 A1.

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