At what temperature does aircraft fuel freeze?

Surname Kerosene
other names Jet Fuel, Aviation Turbine Fuel, Jet A-1, Light Oil, Middle Distillate, TS-1, Turbine Petroleum
Molecular formula Mixture of substances from C10H22 to C16H34
UN number 1223
Hazard number 30
Brief description colorless, slightly smelling, liquid mixture of substances
Physical state liquid
molar mass not applicable
density about 0.747-0.84 g / cm3
Carbon dioxide emissions from combustion 2760 g / l
Energy density (volume related) 9.5 kWh / l = 34.2 MJ / l
Energy density (related to mass) 11.9 kWh / kg = 43.1 MJ / kg (Jet-A1)
freezing point −60 ° C to −40 ° C (depending on the variety)
Boiling range about 175-288 ° C
Flash point 28 ° C to 38 ° C (depending on the variety)
Vapor pressure about 1 hPa (20 ° C)
solubility well soluble in non-polar solvents, not soluble in polar (water)
safety instructions
R and S phrases R: 65
S: (2) -23-24-62
MAK ??
Water hazard class WGK 2 - hazardous to water
As far as possible and customary, SI units are used. Unless otherwise noted, the data given apply to standard conditions.

Kerosene (a light petroleum, Greek Keros: wax) is mainly used as a fuel for the gas turbine engines of jet and turbo-prop aircraft as well as helicopters, but is also a component of diesel fuels. It is also used in liquid grill lighter. It is a narrow fractionation cut from the middle distillate of petroleum refining.


The name kerosene goes back to the doctor and geologist Abraham Gesner (1797–1864), who extracted a flammable liquid from coal in Nova Scotia (Canada) in 1854. The resulting waxy intermediate product, which played an important role in the process, is the reason why he called the liquid kerosene.


Today's turbine kerosene has nothing to do with the historical event. Kerosene is taken from the column bottoms of the middle distillate, which is obtained from petroleum rectification. The narrow fractionation section means that there are few light and less heavy hydrocarbon compounds in the fuel, which is why it does not ignite too early and burns almost residue-free. Most molecules ignite at the same temperature. A boiling analysis provides information about this, which in the case of kerosene shows a long, flat boiling curve in the middle boiling range. This lies between heavy fuel and diesel fuel.


The main difference between kerosene and petroleum is the addition of additives that make it easier to use as aircraft fuel. These include, among others:

  • Antistatic agents prevent or reduce the tendency of the fuel to become statically charged during refueling.
  • Anti-corrosive agents prevent corrosion in the tanks.

For some years now, additives have also been used to curb the development of black smoke.

Specification and use

The specification AN-F-32, which describes the fuel for the first time in the USA under the name Jet Propellant-1 (JP-1), dates back to 1944. The main disadvantage of the fuel is that it can only be used up to temperatures of −40 ° C. JP-1 has a flash point of 38 ° C, has a boiling range of approx. 180 to 230 ° C and is classified in hazard class A II. The newer name of this type of fuel, which is currently only used in the USA, is JET A.

Today, with the exception of the USA, the specification JET A-1 (formerly known as JP-1A) with a slightly lower freezing point (−50 ° C) but the same flash point and boiling range as JET A is used almost exclusively as jet fuel for civil aviation. NATO's military aviation (the Bundeswehr as a representative for Germany) uses the same basic fuel under the name Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8, NATO code F-34), with special additives (additives ), such as antifreeze (Fuel System Icing Inhibitor, FSII), anti-corrosion agents, lubricants, and antistatic agents can be added.

Another variety with a flash point of 28 ° C and a freezing point of −60 ° C is TS-1, which is still used occasionally in Eastern Europe according to the Russian specification GOST 10227-62.

For flights in regions with extremely low temperatures (Alaska, Canada, Siberia) there are still the types JET B for civil and JP-4 with the corresponding additives for military use (Wide Cut Fuels), which are made up of 65% petrol and 35 % Kerosene fractions and also have a freezing point of −60 ° C. However, the engines must be suitable for the use of this fuel. The special grade JP-5 with a particularly high flash point (safety fuel, high flashpoint kerosene) is used on aircraft carriers. Another special type is the hardly flammable JP-7 for aircraft that fly high supersonic speeds and become very hot due to air friction. The only aircraft that used the fuel was the Lockheed SR-71.

For a long time in aviation, kerosene was used exclusively in turbine engines on board jet and turbo-prop aircraft as well as helicopters, while piston engine-powered aircraft used AvGas (aviation fuel). With the development of special diesel engines suitable for aviation, such as B. the Thielert Centurion 1.7, since the beginning of the 21st century, small aircraft can also be operated with kerosene.


Burning kerosene releases greenhouse gases that increase the greenhouse effect and thus global warming. Air travel accounts for over 2% of the world's CO2Emissions. It is controversial whether CO2-Emissions from aviation outweigh emissions on the ground. The effect of greenhouse gases in high layers of the atmosphere is stronger. Due to the long residence time of CO2 In the atmosphere, however, this is distributed evenly overall, so that the location of the emission is unlikely to have any long-term significance. Since fuel consumption is already a major cost factor in air traffic, the incentives to fly economically are already great. The introduction of a state tax on kerosene in commercial air traffic would further increase fuel costs.

In terms of passenger-kilometers, air traffic is the mode of transport with the highest rate of increase of all modes of transport. Therefore, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the share of air traffic in the greenhouse effect could be up to 15 percent in 2050.


Main article: Kerosene tax

Kerosene, like AvGas, is not subject to the (German) mineral oil tax law or the (German) eco tax for commercial aviation companies.

Only in private aviation and for commercial aircraft used in company traffic is each type of aircraft fuel subject to mineral oil tax. Because of the latter point, AOPA Germany is currently examining whether a model lawsuit against the Mineral Oil Tax Act would be worthwhile, B. the company traffic with ships is disadvantaged, which enjoys tax exemption.

useful information

See also

  • Aviation fuel
  • Fuel dumping (discharge of kerosene)

Categories: Harmful Substance | Mixture of substances | mineral oil