June 2010 Issue

Is 100LL’s End Near?

A new EPA policy effort is designed to evaluate the health effects of leaded aviation gasoline, possibly resulting in its replacement. But with what? And when?

It’s no secret that 100LL aviation gasoline is one of, if not the, last leaded fuel in regular use in the U.S. It’s also no secret—or at least it shouldn’t be—that no other fuel offers the same capabilities throughout the general aviation piston fleet. Despite years of attempts to develop a substitute for tetraethyl lead (TEL, an additive helping boost fuel octane, preventing knock and valve-seat recession) or 100LL itself, nothing is FAA-approved as a replacement. Yes, promising research is being conducted into a substitute fuel or additive—especially over the last year or so. As those paying attention to environmental issues associated with aviation fuels know, the lead content of 100LL has long been an issue. The element is responsible for several long-lasting health issues, including neurocognitive, neurobehavioral, sensory, and motor-function effects in children exhibiting relatively miniscule blood lead levels.

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