NASA Tackles Low-Carbon Aviation

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is exploring new designs for aircraft that’ll need less carbon-emitting fuels to be powered. NASA is hoping to help advance a new era of low-carbon commercial aviation.

NASA has launched a new program, called the New Aviation Horizons initiative, which will develop new prototypes of “X-planes” aimed at accelerating the adoption of green and clean technologies in aviation industries. It also is pursuing low-carbon aircraft technologies through its Environmentally Responsible Aviation project, which was created back in 2009 and concluded in 2015.

Aeronautical engineers at NASA are now developing new designs for aircraft that can use electricity to power passenger aircraft. NASA is exploring hybrid and turboelectric propulsion solutions that are converted into thrust and which involve incorporating battery technologies into new aircraft designs. Electrically-powered aircraft could be more energy efficient, emit less pollution and greenhouse gasses, and might also be more quiet. But developing efficient electric propulsion systems for aircraft is a bit tricky.

One such line of research involves a piloted experimental airplane project called Sceptor — Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research — which uses special wings that have integrated electrical motors built into them. The Sceptor plane is actually a Italian-built Tecnam P2006T, equip with the experimental wings.

NASA researchers are aiming to develop a nine-passenger low carbon airplane with a 500-kilowatt power system by 2019.



Feature image: Above the clouds (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Infomastern 


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