Plume analysis

The Northern Way is investing £500,000 in an innovative project which it hopes will lead the way in reducing aircraft emissions.


Project Alfa, an aircraft exhaust analysis facility, is to be built at Manchester Metropolitan University in association with the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester. The lfacility will be the first of its kind in Europe and will be up and running by September 2007.


On take off and landing, aircraft create so-called plumes of gas which contain nitrogen oxides and particulates that contribute to air quality problems in the vicinity of airports.


However, one of the biggest uncertainties in assessing the environmental impact of airports is the actual composition of aircraft exhausts and there is currently limited capability for measuring these kinds of emissions in the plume.
 
Reseachers at the Project Alfa plume analysis facility aim to understanding more about plume composition and local dispersion.


New sampling techniques will improve baseline data that will help to influence operational controls to reduce the impacts of aviation emissions. Researchers there will build a database of operational aircraft emissions as well as gain a better understanding of the complex physics and chemistry within the plume. They also plan to develop an insight into the environmental impacts of operational controls such as reduced thrust and fuel modifications, including biofuels.


Project Alfa lead academic Professor David Raper, from MMU’s Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, said: ‘We will be designing a special rig to be positioned behind the aircraft engine to sample within the exhaust. Over time the equipment should give us a clearer picture of the chemical and physical properties of emissions and lead to a better understanding of the air quality around our airports.’


Alfa is part of the Clean Aviation Initiative and forms part of the recently launched UK Government-sponsored Omega project which will address aviation sustainability.