Graduate student receives FAA student award, wins paper competition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Joseph Abrahamson, a Penn State energy and mineral engineering doctoral candidate, was selected to receive the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Centers of Excellence Student of the Year (SOY) Award. Abrahamson was chosen for his research with developing data-based tools to predict emission indices for alternative fuels. His faculty adviser is Randy Vander Wal, professor of energy and mineral engineering, and materials science and engineering.

Abrahamson also won the FAA ASCENT Joseph A. Hartman Student Paper Competition, which is sponsored by the FAA’s Aviation Sustainability Center. The competition uses a peer-reviewed process to select the best paper with a focus on the environmental impact on the aviation industry. ASCENT, led by Washington State University and MIT, works under the FAA to create science-based solutions for the aviation industry’s biggest challenges. Penn State is a member school of ASCENT.

Abrahamson received both honors during an awards ceremony April 27 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Abrahamson’s research focuses on nonvolatile particulate matter (nvPM) emissions from conventional and alternative fuels.

The emerging use of alternative fuels with varied compositions markedly changes the nonvolatile particulate matter (nvPM) emissions from jet aircraft. These measures in particular are relevant to potential regulations, given increasing recognition of their impacts on both climate and human health. Emission indices can vary with engine power and are strongly dependent upon fuel composition. Abrahamson is developing predictive tools based on data compiled across a comprehensive set of NASA-coordinated field campaigns to separate nvPM fuel dependence from engine combustor conditions in order to develop predictive tools for nvPM emission indices for alternative fuels, in partnership with GE Aviation.

 “These predictive tools will be useful for testing future fuels and developing future FAA regulations, and they should enable future fuels to be evaluated without requiring expensive rigs or full-scale combustor testing,” Abrahamson said.

Student paper competition

Abrahamson’s paper, “Aviation Black Carbon Mass Predictive Model for Alternative and Conventional Fuels at Ground and Cruise,” focuses on quantifying the effects of emissions from jet aircraft. Small particles of soot, referred to as black carbon, form as a result of incomplete fuel combustion. His paper examines errors in previous approximations and suggests new methods to accurately predict emissions from alternative fuels and fuel blends.

“I entered the competition since it had a goal to capture the best ideas and solutions for reducing the environmental impact of aviation. I knew that work on alternative jet fuels and their emissions was an important and pressing topic to the aviation industry,” he said.

A panel of experts from academia, industry, government, and aviation environmental community organizations judged the contest.

The FAA Centers of Excellence strive to create innovate transportation education, conduct high-quality research to foster advancement in transportation technology, and establish close interaction between universities and the community to address regional issues.

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Last Updated May 20, 2016