The Chemistry of Modern Flight




    Jet fuel was first used in the early stages of World War 2 by the Germans in the He 178 fighter. Gasoline was the fuel used due its known ease of evaporation and because it could be easily used in piston engines (which was the jet engine used at that time).  When the English, however started using jet fuel in jet engines (designed by Frank Whittle), they used kerosene as gasoline was in short supply due to the war (in the Gloster E28/32 fighter). Kerosene remains the primary choice of jet fuel used today due to the success of the Whittle engine.   


                   A He 178                                                                                                                                               A Gloster E28/32

    The Kerosene fuel used today has had just a few minor altercations through the years, the most being kerosene mixed with gasoline to form a fuel mix. These altercations all lead to the fuel becoming more like an ideal jet fuel (an example of this is adding Tetra ethyl lead to increase the fuels flash point). Modern jet fuels have a number of additives (mainly for safety reasons) such as antioxidants to prevent gumming and antistatic agents to reduce the risk of sparking thus reducing the risk of setting the fuel alight.