Thermal stability is an important characteristic of alternative fuels that must be evaluated before they can be used in aviation engines. This characteristic is of great importance to the effectiveness of the fuel as a coolant and to the engine’s combustion performance. In this work, the thermal stability of Gevo fuel, an alcohol to jet fuel made from plant derived feedstock, was studied. This analysis was used to comment on the effectiveness of the current thermal stability test standard. This work was performed using a spectroscopic ellipsometer to measure the thickness of deposits left on aluminum substrates. It was observed that Gevo deposit thickness increased slowly up to 375 °C and much more rapidly after that point. Similar behavior was observed in JP-8 fuel. Comparisons were also made between color standard ratings and ellipsometric thickness measurements, and it was found that in some cases, darker colors did not indicate thicker deposits. Reference tubes were used to validate the optical models used in this work, and different optical constants were found to best model the results than what are published in the ASTM D3241 test method for thermal stability.

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