ECHA Microbiology, based in Cardiff, Wales, has developed a test kit that can provide a numerical indication of microbial contamination in aircraft fuel tanks. The kit received the Institute of Petroleum’s annual innovation award and an endorse-ment from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The airline group recommends that each tank on every airliner be tested with the ECHA Microbiology kit at least once a year–monthly on high-risk aircraft operating in humid climates or on short-haul routes. The Welsh company has signed a deal with BP to market the test kit internationally under the brand name MicrobMonitor2. ExxonMobil has also directed that all its European jet fuel depots use the kits.
Left undetected and untreated, yeast, mold and bacterial contaminants can plug filters and gauges, causing problems with fuel flow and fuel-quantity readings. In the past, fuel samples needed to be sent by aircraft operators to specialty labs such as ECHA Microbiology for testing. That led the company to develop a kit in conjunction with the Welsh Development Agency, a government-sponsored public entity. ECHA Microbiology was founded by Ted Hill, a former senior lecturer in microbiology at Cardiff University.