Fuel deoxygenation is being developed as a means for suppressing autoxidative coke formation in aircraft fuel systems, thereby increasing the exploitable cooling capacity of the fuel, enabling major increases in engine operating temperature and cycle efficiency. Reduced maintenance is an added benefit. A prototype membrane filter module for on-line removal of dissolved oxygen, which would otherwise react to form coke precursors, was constructed and successfully demonstrated. The fuel flows over the membrane, while oxygen diffuses through it at a rate that is proportional to the difference in oxygen partial pressures across the surface. Tests were conducted over a range of fuel flow rates (residence times) and temperatures. The filter was operated with air-saturated jet fuel for several hours at a steady-state condition, verifying the capability to remove essentially all of the dissolved oxygen (to <1 ppm) and proving the viability of the concept. A convincing demonstration of coke suppression was performed when air-saturated (normal) and deoxygenated jet fuels were tested in a standard ASTM heated tube apparatus at wall temperatures as high as 850 F. With deoxygenated fuel, there was a dramatic reduction (more than an order of magnitude) in coke deposition relative to air-saturated Jet A, which will allow the maximum fuel temperature to be increased by more than 200 F, doubling the available heat sink. Moreover, deoxygenated Jet A was shown to perform as well as JP-7, the Air Force’s highest thermal stability fuel. An analytical model for oxygen permeation through the membrane was formulated, and used in conjunction with the test data to estimate the filter size required for a practical (i.e., low-volume/high-flowrate) deoxygenator.

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