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Please note, this question does not call into question whether or not the conspiracy theory is true or untrue, but the feasibility of certain chemicals being used as fuel additives in order to make the theory viable.

Chemtrail conspiracy theorists believe that there are certain additives being put into jet fuel to spew out [nano-]particles that rain down on us, for means that are being kept secret. The hypothesized reasons behind 'chemtrailing' range anywhere from weather modification, population reduction, and sunlight blocking to reduce the earths temperature hence combatting global warming.

Some popular agents that are called into speculation:

  • Aluminium based aerosols
  • Mono-atomic gold
  • Barium

My question is, wouldn't these additives, chemicals, etc, cause adverse reactions inside the jet engines, if the turbine is the actual catalyst supposedly spraying these things?

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Mold spores, blood, or other organic things probably wouldn't survive the high temperatures/pressures. Anything else you would have to figure out what it would be after being diluted in jet fuel (basically refined kerosene) and burned. So what could you really successfully accomplish (or even be worth trying) with a fuel additive that could have an effect like the conspiracy theorists are speculating... Most of us are pilots or other aviation related workers or enthusiasts. I have a Master's of Aeronautical Science but I never even took chemistry except in High School.. –  p1l0t Apr 16 '14 at 20:25
I don't think conspiracy theorists are concerned about what engine manufacturers say might or might not damage the engine. –  Greg Hewgill Apr 16 '14 at 20:27
Nor are they overly concerned with the truth. It's the tin foil hat brigade. Nothing to see here, folks, just move along.... (just my opinion.) –  Skip Miller Apr 16 '14 at 20:33
I'll link the related question from skeptics here –  ratchet freak Apr 16 '14 at 20:53
The suitability of this question here is being discussed in meta: Why was my question closed? –  Lnafziger May 1 '14 at 16:35

2 Answers 2

Jet fuel is seldom if ever pure hydrocarbon molecules. It's got a lot of other stuff mixed into it to improve the properties. I'm going to quote Shell for the sake of examples:

Antioxidants (gum inhibitors) must be used in Avgas to prevent the formation of gum and other antioxidation products. Jet fuels, which are inherently more stable than gasolines, may contain them, depending on the treatment process used during manufacture.

A metal deactivator - now rarely used - may be added to nullify the effects of dissolved trace metals, especially copper, which can impair the thermal stability of jet fuels.

Corrosion inhibitors can be used to reduce corrosion in fuel system and improve the lubricity - lubricating properties - of jet fuels.

Fuel system icing inhibitors reduce the freezing point of any water that may be in the fuel system and prevent the formation of ice crystals that could restrict fuel flow. They are mandatory in military Jet but are not used in civil aircraft that have fuel heaters. They may be added to either Jet or Avgas during the fuelling of small aircraft.

Static dissipater additives minimise the hazardous effects of static charges that build up during movement of jet fuels. They are sometimes used in Avgas as well. Source

Further analysis

No practical application:

Aluminium based aerosols, Mono-atomic gold, Nano aluminum-coated fiberglass, Radioactive thorium, Cadmium, Chromium, Nickel, Desiccated blood, Mold spores, Yellow fungal mycotoxins, Polymer fibers, Barium.

Useful additives from your list:

  • Ethylene dibromide- Anti-Knock agent in aviation fuel.
  • Alumium: Derivatives containing it have been used.

Many of the materials you list might have the very real potential to (seriously) damage jet turbines and piston engines if mixed in during extended use.

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Not so sure about "desiccated blood" (eek!), but polymer fibres sound like something that would seriously screw up a jet engine, especially when heated to the temperatures inside one. –  Qantas 94 Heavy Apr 17 '14 at 1:20
Temperatures inside the burner can of a jet engine are 500 - 600 degrees Celsius. I wouldn't worry much about biologicals in the jet fuel. –  Skip Miller May 12 '14 at 13:17

Mixing things in with aviation fuels that aren't purpose-engineered for the aircraft fuel system environment is useless at best and harmful to the airplane and/or engine at worst.

Of your list:

  • Mycotoxins, blood-based stuff, and spores would simply burn up.
  • Live biologicals are worse -- they can cause trouble even before they get the chance to burn up. For instance, they can produce corrosive organic acids, gnaw on plastic and rubber parts, or form biofilms and mats that work wonders for clogging orifices. Also, fuel system icing inhibitors have biocidal effects as they deprive any would-be-living-things in the fuel of much-needed water.
  • Metals have an annoying habit of catalyzing reactions that form gummy deposits in fuel system parts; in fact, additives are used to get metal ions in the fuel into a sequestered state where they won't cause gummy, gunky trouble. Civil Jet-A doesn't use them as often because refiner QC and QA are better than they were about keeping metal ions out of the fuel to begin with, but they are a key ingredient in the +100TS additive package used in military JP-8.
  • Particulate additives are a particularly bad choice as they have the strong potential to clog orifices and jam fine moving parts in aircraft fuel system control elements, which can have serious to catastrophic consequences. This rules out polymer fibers and coated fiberglass.

As a sidenote -- ethylene dibromide is only used in aviation gasoline, which is a niche fuel in the current commercial aviation world (some Part 135 operators use it, but that's really about it -- turbine reliability is too convincing an argument to avoid for all but the smallest aircraft used in even air taxi and commuter airline service). Considering the airplanes that burn it, it can be scratched off the list fairly safely.

In conclusion: anyone who tried to "spike" some Jet-A with a sooper sekret mystery additive would do nothing useful at best, and wind up getting blamed for a smoking hole in the ground at worst. Imagine being the CIA and having the NTSB trying to roast you over a top secret program...

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