Is Purdue good for aerospace engineering

When people talk about sustainability, jet fuel doesn’t come up in the conversation. Unless it is Gozdem Kilaz who is talking.

Kilaz, an assistant professor of engineering technology at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, her alma mater, is head of the Fuel Laboratory of Renewable Energy. She and her group research sustainable energy and alternative liquid transportation fuels for gas turbine aircraft engines.

“We want to look at the chemical composition of a drop of fuel, just like a fingerprint, and work on predicting if the fuel is going to be stored well, if it is susceptible to corroding or not, if it is going to be safe with all the parts it comes in contact with in the aircraft,” she said.

“We’re not just trying to follow the regular path. We want to make a change. We want to make a difference.”

Instead, she says those in the position of professor have a responsibility to use their knowledge to make a difference

Kilaz believes there is more to her research efforts than a desire for knowledge or an eagerness to educate future generations.

“As scientists, I don’t think we can just sit on the corner and say ‘I’m a professor. I’m going to research all this information and decide all these formulas and feel great about it,’” Kilaz said. “Knowledge bring a lot of responsibility and if I have some part in this development in U.S. sustainability and economic growth, that is exactly what we’re here for.”

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“When dealing with sustainability, it’s a very difficult, hard to achieve goal,” Kilaz said. “We have to prove the rest of the world that it makes sense with respect to economy, people and the environment.”

But understanding what factors into a fuel’s performance could offer avenues in determining lower development costs of alternatives and dependence on crude oil sourced from other countries.

“Sustainability is a subset of all the good things that takes us away from the petroleum use and gives us domestic energy security, environmental advantages, lower emissions and the feedstock is never going to diminish.”

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“What we do matters,” she said. “We need to have a big impact, take a giant leap with our work.”

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