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Parker Aerospace has acquired rights to technology developed by Phyre Technologies that uses a catalytic process to make aircraft fuel tank vapours inert.

The companies say the technology holds promise for turboprops, helicopters, unmanned and other aircraft with engines that lack high-pressure engine bleed air, which is a key ingredient to many existing vapour-reducing systems.

The system, which San Diego-based Phyre calls GOBIGGS (green onboard inert gas generating system), uses low-pressure fans to pull oxygen and fuel vapour from fuel tanks and into a catalytic converter, says Bob Fore, director of engineering for Parker's fluid systems division.

The converter outputs inert gas, which is returned to the fuel tanks, and water, adds Fore.

By comparison, convention systems found on large aircraft have air separation modules (ASMs) that use engine bleed air to generate inert nitrogen gas, says Parker.

"Parker's work with Phyre will advance the state-of-the-art in fuel tank inerting technology by developing the catalytic inerting concept into a commercially viable reality," says Bryan Jensen, an engineer at Parker, which is a division of Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin.

"Bleeding engines to supply a conventional ASM-based inerting system can be particularly burdensome for aircraft powered by engines that have little or no bleed air available," he adds.

Demand for the technology surged following regulations that took effect after the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800.

The US National Transportation Safety Board concluded the 747-100 exploded when fuel vapours in the aircraft's centre fuel tank ignited.

Source: Cirium Dashboard