Environmental Risk Assessment of Aviation Biofuels

  • Nour Mezher

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


As developments in the field of sustainable energy expand and advance, all industries are beginning to develop clean and sustainable energy sources of their own. One of these industries is the aviation industry. The aviation industry accounts for 15 % of the total transportation carbon emissions every year. It is for this reason several oil and fuel companies have developed aviation biofuels called Bio-Derived Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosenes (Bio-SPK's). With the assumption that these fuels will eventually be commercially available, the objective of this thesis was to determine whether or not an accidental spill of these Bio-SPKs poses a health risk to residents living in its vicinity or construction workers working at the site. This study was conducted according to the exposure pathways, parameters and defaults set by the American Society for Testing and Materials Risk-Based Corrective Action (ASTM RBCA) program for three different Bio-SPKs in comparison to conventional aviation fuel, JetA. Protective contamination (PCLs) of the fuels were also calculated to set a safety standard for soil hydrocarbons required for the remediation of a fresh spill. The three exposure pathways specifically studied are soil leaching to groundwater, direct soil contact and ingestion, and soil volatilization into outdoor air. The analysis was done following the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Criteria Working Group (TPHCWG) guidelines, which divides hydrocarbon mixtures into 13 aliphatic and aromatic fractions. The fractions of interest considered in this study were the aliphatic ones (Equivalent Carbon Number (ECN)>5-6, ECN>6-8, ECN>8-10, ECN>10-12, ECN>12-16, ECN>16-21). Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and naphthalene were assumed to be the risk drivers of the aromatic fractions as they are known to be more toxic than the remaining aromatic fraction. The results showed that the Bio-SPKs toxicity properties and PCL's were dominated by the aliphatic ECN>8-10 fraction in the soil leaching to groundwater pathway, and JetA's toxicity properties and PCL's were dominated by benzene in the same pathway. The PCL's of all Bio-SPK's were from ten to one hundred times greater than those of JetA, showing that Bio-SPK's pose a lower health risk than JetA when spilt.
Date of Award2011
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorFarrukh Ahmad (Supervisor)


  • Biogas
  • Environmental Risk Assessment

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