Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution

Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution - Plan landing - Parker Aerospace Recently, Parker Aerospace and Phyre Technologies signed an exclusive license agreement to explore advancing Phyre’s patented catalytic inerting technology. Parker will bring its 50-plus years of fuel tank inerting expertise to the forefront, as both organizations collaborate on the product development necessary to bring catalytic inerting to the marketplace. 


“We are developing an innovative new technology that holds the promise of a superior solution for certain aircraft applications. This technology is complementary to our current offerings and will allow us to expand into additional aircraft markets.”

Bryan Jensen, principal engineer for fuel tank inerting, Parker Aerospace


Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution - Evolution of Fuel Tank Inerting Technology


Comparing current and new inerting technology

Hollow fiber membrane-based air separation module (ASM) technology has been the dominant technology for aircraft fuel tank inerting systems over the last 20 years.

In general, ASM-based inerting systems are significantly better than historical fuel tank inerting technologies, such as LN2, Halon, pressure swing adsorption, and reticulated foam. However, ASM-based systems need high-pressure air in order to function.

Typically, this high-pressure air is extracted from the engines and supplied to the inerting system via the aircraft pneumatic system.

Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution - Inerting technology diagram - Parker Aerospace

With the new technology, the recirculating catalytic inerting system draws ullage gas from the fuel tank, reacts the gas stream in a catalytic converter, cools the gas stream, removes the water, and returns the inert products of the reaction back to the fuel tank. This new process can inert a fuel tank without having to extract bleed-air from the engines.

As the catalytic inerting system requires no bleed air or attachment to the aircraft pneumatic system, it is effectively a closed-loop architecture that can be integrated within the aircraft fuel system. This offers a significant advantage for aircraft powered by turboshaft (helicopters), turboprops (short-haul transports), or small turbofan engines (business jets). For airframers and other aerospace OEMs, tremendous opportunities can be realized.

Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution - New inerting technology - Parker Aerospace

Comparing the technologies side-by-side

Cataytic Inerting Technology - Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting - Comparison of ASM based versus Catalytic - Parker Aerospace


Current fuel tank inerting equipment forces engine-generated bleed air through air separation modules (ASMs) in order to generate inert gas. With catalytic inerting, ullage gas is pulled from the fuel tank and passed through a catalyst, producing inert products of reaction. The inert product gas stream is then cooled and dried before being returned to the fuel tank to inert the ullage space. This unique and self-contained system is completely decoupled from the aircraft pneumatic system and is believed to produce fewer efficiency losses than the current ASM-based inerting technology.


No high-pressure air source required

Catalytic inerting holds the promise of generating inert gas onboard the aircraft with a system that does not require a source of high-pressure air. The system only requires interfaces with the aircraft fuel tank and electrical system.

Bleeding engines to supply a conventional ASM-based inerting system can be particularly burdensome for aircraft powered by engines that have little or no bleed air available, such as turboshafts (helicopters), small turbofans (business jets), and turboprops (short-haul transports). Catalytic inerting avoids this issue entirely.


Catalytic inerting: An impressive solution with broad applications

Today’s aerospace manufacturers and operators understand the importance of incorporating fuel tank inerting systems into their aircraft platforms. Inerting technology enhances the safety of the fuel tanks on both military and commercial aircraft.

Our aerospace engineers support programs ranging from military programs to commercial platforms. Parker Aerospace is the world leader in fuel tank inerting technology, with an unmatched pedigree of over 50 years of experience in providing inerting systems on both military and commercial aircraft for the world’s fleet. Developing catalytic inerting technology into a commercially-viable reality is a natural fit.

Our highly experienced inerting engineers continually evaluate new methods and technology, providing continuous development and enhancement of our inerting capabilities. Catalytic inerting advances the current state-of-the-art technology with impressive solutions that offer a number of benefits, including the ability to be used across a variety of aircraft and helicopter platforms.


Next steps: Taking the technology to expanded testing phase

“We plan to mature catalytic inerting technology over the next couple of years. During that time, we’ll be proving out the system for use in multiple applications and over a broad spectrum of operating conditions. We’ll be working hard to make the technology ready to offer to the marketplace.”

Bryan Jensen, principal engineer for fuel tank inerting, Parker Aerospace


“We are excited to be embarking on this advanced development work with Parker. The additional catalyst testing will help confirm system life, as well as expand and verify the operating envelope. The final catalytic system that will eventually go to market will not only be significantly smaller and lighter, but we anticipate that its maintenance costs will be considerably reduced as well.”

Stuart Robertson, chief executive officer, Phyre Technologies


As key developments pan out, we will continue to update our blog. Stay tuned.

Catalytic Inerting Technology: Next Generation Fuel Tank Inerting Solution - Bryan Jensen Principal Engineer Parker HannifinArticle contributed by Bryan Jensen, principal engineer, Parker Aerospace.





Learn more about Parker Aerospace as well as fuel and inerting systems through our blog and website


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