Thermal stability is an important characteristic of alternative fuels that must be evaluated before they can be used in aviation engines. Thermal stability refers to the degree to which a fuel breaks down when it is heated prior to combustion. This characteristic is of great importance to the effectiveness of the fuel as a coolant and to the engine’s combustion performance. The thermal stability of Sasol IPK, a synthetic alternative to Jet-A, with varying levels of naphthalene has been studied on aluminum and stainless steel substrates at 300 to 400 °C. This was conducted using a spectroscopic ellipsometer to measure the thickness of deposits left on the heated substrates. Ellipsometry is an optical technique that measures the changes in a light beam’s polarization and intensity after it reflects from a thin film to determine the film’s physical and optical properties. It was observed that, as would be expected, increasing the temperature increased the deposit thickness for a constant concentration of naphthalene on both substrates. The repeatability of these measurements was verified using multiple trials at identical test conditions. Lastly, the effect of increasing the naphthalene concentration at a constant temperature was found to also increase the deposit thickness.

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