Engineers are constantly working to make aircraft more fuel-efficient and more environment-friendly, and several new technological innovations may finally make the future of flight a sustainable one. Find it interesting? Read on.
Josh Zepps, the energyNOW! Correspondent, has looked into efforts by the aviation industry to meet the growing demand for a greener way to fly with new aircraft design and advanced fuel. The world is on the brink of an aviation revolution, and within the next few years passengers could well be flying on planes that are radically different – and could have a zero-emission carbon footprint.
NASA’s Langley Air and Space Research Center is one location pushing the limits of energy-efficient planes – focusing on reducing weight and drag, and improving propulsion efficiency.
Beyond being the home of advanced wind tunnel testing facility, Langley has developed a new composite material 10 percent lighter than the most advanced carbon fiber composite materials on the market today, and 25-30 percent lighter than aluminum. The new material, PRSEUS, is almost as thin and malleable as a piece of cloth, but exponentially stronger.
NASA isn’t stopping at making their planes lighter, though. They’re also working to make their fuel much more sustainable. At the Green Lab facility in Cleveland, researchers are using science to improve the oil content of biofuel plants, and improve their ability to grow in areas currently off-limits to crop production, like salty coastal areas.
Improving aviation biofuels could also help cut costs, since the expected fuel bill for global commercial aviation in 2011 alone is expected to be $39 billion.
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