Development and Testing of Aviation Fuel Filters

For more than 40 years, Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has conducted aviation fuel research and testing, continually improving capabilities, facilities, and equipment.

The Institute operates a world-class aviation fuel filtration test facility, providing an independent and unbiased source for developing and evaluating aviation fuel filtration systems. SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division has achieved certification to ISO 9001 and 14001, ensuring compliance with stringent quality control procedures in design, development, testing, and environmental management. Using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, SwRI engineers offer comprehensive services for filtration manufacturers, distributors, and users, including:

  • Developing innovative filtration media and systems
  • Performing equipment qualification and validation services
  • Developing and validating filtration procedures and methods
  • Providing field analysis and contamination assessment services

Research and Development

With broad capabilities in materials science, engine design and development, and fuel and lubricant technologies, SwRI offers a single resource to aviation filtration manufacturers, suppliers, and users. Institute engineers and scientists provide engineering services such as:

  • Long-term materials compatibility design
  • Pipeline and hydrant design and modeling
  • Hydrodynamic and flow simulations
  • Component and equipment performance testing

Experienced technicians perform a wide range of tests on aviation filters using a fuel flow test rig. Here the technician performs a single-element test on a coalescer/separator system. The inset shows a filtration failure, releasing test dust into the fuel stream.

Technical Services

Experienced staff performs single-element and full-scale system tests on aviation filters, coalescers, separators, monitors, and microfilters to ensure compliance with national and international specifications, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Institute of Petroleum (IP). SwRI staff conducts tests according to API and IP specifications, including:

  • Specification 1581 for aviation jet fuel filter/separators
  • Specification 1583 for aviation jet fuel monitors with absorbent-type elements
  • Specification 1590 for aviation jet fuel microfilters

SwRI also performs testing in accordance with military specifications such as MIL-PRF-52308J.

SwRI staff members use state-of-the-art testing facilities and equipment to evaluate aviation fuel filtration components and systems. In addition to performing industry-specified tests and procedures, Institute engineers develop custom tests to meet specific client requirements.

Qualification Testing

Filtration manufacturers qualify their products to meet national and international specifications. The SwRI aviation filtration facility is an independent laboratory that provides the aviation industry with unbiased and accurate results.

Engineers evaluate filters and other components to determine the cause of failure. Visual inspection of filters and housings is often required to solve problems in the field.

Field Analysis and Contamination Assessment

Filters frequently encounter unknown contaminants or harsh operating conditions, resulting in filter failure. The SwRI aviation filtration facility can simulate a wide range of conditions to duplicate the problem and determine the causes of the difficulty. SwRI staff can also visit the site to assess conditions that may contribute to filter or component failure.

SwRI staff members disassemble a filter cartridge to evaluate individual components and determine cause of filter failure.

Laboratory Support

The Institute has extensive laboratory facilities to provide technical support for standard testing or research and development programs. Available equipment includes:

  • Automated tensiometer
  • Microseparatometer
  • Scanning electron microscopes
  • Particle counters

Filtration is used during refueling to ensure clean fuel is being pumped into the aircraft.

This brochure was published in March 2003. For more information about development and testing of aviation fuel filters, contact Scott Hutzler, manager, Phone (210) 522-6978, Fax (210) 522-3270, Fuels and Lubricants Research Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.

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