Jet fuel microbial study gets foreign recognition, partnership
• CITA presents findings to IATA, global audience
A pioneering local study on microbial contamination of aviation fuel and its handling system in tropical Africa has gained the buy-in of the international aviation community, with foreign firms set to support further studies.
The international support is aimed at further development of local expertise and infrastructure to measure, analyse and create remedial standards for microbial contamination of aviation fuel.CITA Petroleum Nigeria Limited championed the local study and recently unveiled it at the Aviation fuel systems management symposium 2018, held at Miami-Florida, United States. Also at the Bi-annual Conference, Meetings and Exhibitions of International Air Transport Association (IATA) – a meeting of over 175 member airlines and leading jet fuel companies worldwide, held in London, United Kingdom.
Microbial are microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that are capable of existing in water where they interface with fuel. These microorganisms use alkanes and additives in fuel as foodstuff. The most destructive of the microbes that grows in the aircraft fuel environment is the fungus Hormoconis resinae. It is the most common cause of microbial corrosion in aircraft fuel tanks.
Contaminated fuel is one of the causes of equipment failure, which is the second leading cause of plane crashes globally – after pilot error.Lead researcher and professor of environmental microbiology, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Albert Olayemi, said at the Miami-Florida symposium that the study laid a solid foundation for the microbial database, diversity of the local environment and their possible effects on stored fuels in the tropics.
Olayemi added: “The use of a uniform international standard to determine microbiological quality of fuels is indefensible. Standards based on climatologic differences are suggested to be more realistic. “Again, the use of standard microbiological methods in identifying and quantifying microbes in fuels may be considered more reliable than species-specific methods, which are in current use,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), CITA Petroleum Nigeria Limited, Olasimbo Betiku, at the London forum, added that though no case of air incident or accident traceable to microbial contamination of fuel has been recorded in Africa, the peculiarities of the environment and her unique microbial properties are as important. Hence, the need for a sustainable and proactive system in managing fuel and fuel handling systems in the region.
Betiku, while unveiling the research titled: ‘Microbial contamination of aviation fuel and its handling system in tropical Africa: Nigeria as a case study’, said there are standard kits for measuring microbial properties of contaminants in jet fuel presently, but some of them are targeted at some microbes, believing that the microbes affect products in all regions of the world.
The COO added that besides identifying the limitations in the global yardstick of microbial contamination indicators, the study has also addressed the paucity of literature on jet fuel systems that are original to the African continent, especially Nigeria.He said courtesy of the contributions to knowledge, at least two companies will be collaborating with CITA locally, to train local expertise and develop infrastructure in the area of identifying and analysing and creating remedial corrections for any form of microbial contaminations.
Chief Executive Officer of CITA, Dr. Thomas Ogungbangbe, who led the delegation to U.S. and UK, told reporters that the gaps filled were associated with the present industry practice. Hence, it is a global contribution to general aviation safety.Ogungbangbe said further that: “We are already becoming the reference point on microbial contamination for jet fuel in this part of the world. Also, the international community is recognising the local expertise from Nigeria in this very unique jet fuel management system.
“There has not been any form of microbial contamination of fuel in Africa. But this will collectively create a practical approach to managing our system to safeguard such contamination,” he said.