Fuel System New Technologies
Modern trends applied in the fuel system technologies have been useful in increasing fuel efficiency as well as the effectiveness of aircraft maintenance. A new technology or innovation can be embraced in fuel control units, fuel tank, gauges, or fuel lines. For instance, in Boeing 787, new electrical systems are used to reduce fuel consumption. A powered aircraft requires fuel on board for engine’s operation, and the fuel system comprises storage tanks, filters, valves, metering devices, as well as monitoring devices (Langton, 2008). Therefore, a new fuel tank system and gauges in such aircrafts as Boeing 787 and Airbus 380 are aimed to minimize flight costs through raising fuel efficiency.
Modern Trends of Fuel Systems
An apt example of a modern innovation in the fuel tank system of an aircraft is a tank inerting system, where oxygen is replaced with an inert gas so as to negate the probability of fuel vapor ignition. The fuel tank inerting system is a technology that has been imperative in ensuring safety through minimizing aircraft explosions and the resultant damages. When fuel is consumed during a flight, its level in the tank goes down, and the resulting oxygen space is filled with an inert gas (Wagner & Norris, 2009). Another useful advantage of the fuel tank inerting system is that the nitrogen gas will prevent any combustion that may take place in the tank. The analogy lying behind this is the fact that oxygen supports combustion and increases chances of an explosion in the tank unlike nitrogen. The fuel inerting system is acceptable as it provides utmost safety during a flight. However, it has not been limited to one technique because some aeronautical engineers opt to use nitrogen to make the fuel tank inert while others use the engine exhaust to produce an inert gas. Different techniques have the same ulterior objective.
An aircraft is also likely to be struck by lightning while on the air, and this may have detrimental implications, especially when it will reaches the fuel tank. In this respect, engineers have adopted a new fuel tank technology in Boeing 787 that deters the lightening from reaching the fuel tank. They are based on using the airframe built of composite plastic in the quest of addressing lightening protection. The fuel technology guarantees safety by negating the impact of fuel-tank flammability and meeting the spark-prevention standard. Thus, the design ensures that there is spark prevention in the tank, which will aid in the reduction of flammability as well as any vapor inside the tank. The new technology incorporates distinct protection layers that aid in spark prevention.
There is also a fuel system technology which encompasses a replacement of pneumatic systems with electrical ones, which have shown a great improvement in how an aircraft burns fuel. In addition, their operation is based on a no-bleed systems architecture that aids in the power source conversion. The no-bleed system has proven to be an effective fuel technology as it yields benefits such as an improvement in fuel consumption, which is attributable to an efficient secondary power extraction (Norris, 2005). The reduction in fuel consumption can also be attributed to a decrease in the overall weight of the aircraft. The engineering design system of Boeing 787 ensures that the use of electrical power guarantees more efficiency as compared to common pneumatic power systems. Moreover, as a result of the new fuel technology, Boeing 787 utilizes about 20% less fuel than initial Boeing 767 (Wagner & Norris, 2009).
Contemporary airline designs used in Airbus 380 also embrace geared turbofans that are efficient in reducing fuel consumption. They are more powerful as compared to conventional jet engines. The fuel technology in the contemporary airline industry has also adopted self-sealing fuel tanks, which are useful in preventing a fuel tank from leaking notwithstanding a predicament that confronts the plane while on the air. Self-sealing tanks are an aeronautical engineering innovation that utilizes several layers of rubber in reinforcing fabric and absorbing any fuel that may be spilled whenever leaking takes place (Wagner & Norris, 2009). The layers consist of vulcanized and natural untreated rubber, swelling up and expanding whenever it comes into contact with fuel. As a result, in the event of any inherent spill, fuel will be absorbed by the rubber layers, which will thus swell and prevent any oil spills.
Self-sealing fuel tanks are important because the tank may be punctured and leak fuel. A plane may also be attacked by an enemy or face a crash due to bad weather, but its fuel will still be intact. Thus, it will prevent further damage or any resultant explosions (Langton, 2008). Engineers have advanced the self-sealing technology by utilizing open cell foam dividing the gas cell into small spaces that eliminate any vapor that may cause combustion. Another self-sealing innovation, even though it is not commonly applied, is the interconnection of fuel cells based on interconnecting hoses that are self-sealing as well.
Another fuel technology system that has been incorporated in an aircraft design, for instance, Boeing 787, is embracing a mixture of green diesels and jet fuel (Wagner & Norris, 2009). Green diesel is made from vegetable oils, such as waste animal fats. The impact of this fuel technology system is ensuring that there are fewer emissions, which are environmentally friendly. Moreover, the production of biodiesel is easier while capital investment in the production process is not so significant. Additionally, carbon fuel emissions that emanate from the use of fossil fuel are reduced significantly when green diesel is used, and it is also safe for the engine (Langton, 2008).
Modern designs also incorporate multi-engine aircraft fuel systems that have more features, which make the system more technical. Some of the additional features found in such a fuel system include flow valves and pumps that ensure that both engines have been fed from one tank. The system also contains wing tanks that have an electric boost pump as well as a mechanical pump that ensures that fuel replication is efficient. However, some aircrafts still embrace a single engine fuel system with capacitive probes in tanks. Such systems will not be as efficient because when more fuel is burned, there will be more air that will get in the tank, and the resultant impact of which will increase the capacitance (Seabridge & Moir, 2013). Such fuel innovations ensure that the magneto resistive technology encompasses fuel level sensors that come in handy in the field of general aviation applications.
The fuel system technology has been also developed to the extent of incorporating external fuel tanks, which increase the size of an aircraft. The fuel system technology has been more useful in a combat aircraft, where tanks are discarded as soon as they are empty to enhance the performance of a plane. However, it is equally important to acknowledge that external tanks can only transfer fuel from the tip tank to the main one only when there is a fuel pump in the first (Norris, 2005).
Additionally, fuel pumps for aero engines have recently embraced low heat-to-fuel pumping solutions to guarantee the efficiency of aircraft’s operations. Low heat pumps have proven useful, especially in the era of increasing fuel temperatures that have become inevitable. In this respect, the fuel pumping solution ensures that fuel does not overheat because the engines have effective heat management systems. The solution has also been tested for a considerable duration of time so as to ensure that the service provided will be long-lasting and will not be subject to unnecessary system breakdowns or failures (Seabridge & Moir, 2013).
Fuel pumps used in aircraft engines vary from centrifugal and fixed pumps to variable positive displacement pumps. Some of the features of the most efficient fuel pumps are a unique bearing and gearing teeth, as well as a low-pressure stage. The first comes in handy in the extension of the lifespan of a fuel pump, while the second becomes useful in tolerating vapor that may stem from low pressure. It also ensures that an aircraft engine can be restarted even at lower pump speeds. Another integral aspect is a split-discharge fixed displacement pumping system that ensures safety even in the course of rising temperatures (Langton, 2008). Fuel tanks have also been fitted with more than two vents to reduce chances of obstruction.
An aircraft fuel system serves an integral purpose during a flight, and it is imperative to always embrace new technologies that will increase the efficiency of the system. In addition, they ensure that the fuel system is arranged and constructed in a manner that will guarantee an appropriate fuel flow at the right pressure without undermining the major engine’s operations. Examples of fuel system technologies include low heat-to-fuel pumping solutions, tank inerting systems, and replacing of pneumatic systems with electrical ones just to mention a few.