Like the U.S., Canada has committed to identifying an alternative fuel to 100LL avgas for general aviation use, as part of the Canadian government’s Clean Air Agenda. On June 17, the National Research Council Canada (NRC) formally launched a concentrated research effort to find and test potential replacement fuels.
An alternative avgas is vital to ensuring the long-term operational viability of piston-powered aircraft, says Jerzy Komorowski, general manager of the NRC’s aerospace division.
General aviation is a key part of Canada’s transportation infrastructure, given that its vastness and latitude often make road travel impractical. For much of rural and northern Canada, general aviation provides the main mode of air transport for people and cargo. Komorowski says the most common aircraft used are twin-engine aircraft powered by high-compression piston engines. 100LL remains in widespread use by these types of aircraft, but it contains lead and therefore can negatively impact people’s health and the environment.
According to the NRC, two lower-lead-content/octane-certified fuels are available, and fuel manufacturers have put forward three experimental alternative fuels as candidates for analysis. The council plans to investigate their suitability for general aviation applications and to make recommendations about future deployments of 100LL replacement fuels.
Advances in biofuels have yielded positive results, Komorowski says, adding that he hopes the research program to find a replacement for 100LL avgas can follow suit. “It is a natural progression that the NRC continues alternative jet and aviation
gasoline fuels research for the general aviation market,” he says.