Research is underway to create aircrafts that can perform at the same if not higher level of efficiency while reducing their carbon footprint on the environment. These aircrafts could very well lead the brigade towards green air transportation in the near future. Accordingly, here are some examples of green air transportation possibilities using different technologies to spearhead this movement.
DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane
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For years now, efforts have been underway to improve the speed and VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) of an aircraft without compromising on efficiency, range and functionality. DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane is an experimental aircraft that uses a blend of fixed and rotary wing technologies as well as novel subsystems to achieve this.
The experiment features an unmanned aircraft that comes with two small front canards, two large rear wings and short winglets near the aircraft’s nose. The engine will provide an electrical power of 3 megawatts to the 24 ducted fans in the canards and wings, both of which can be rotated to direct the fans’ thrust as required (downward for hovering, rearward for forward flight and at any angle in between). The design will help the VTOL X-Plane to fly further and faster as well as accomplish missions without actually landing anywhere.
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Debuting at the Paris Air Show, the E-Fan 2.0 is an extremely lightweight electric aircraft (weighs only about half a ton) that is capable of reaching speeds of up to 136mph. Powered by lithium-ion polymer batteries, the aircraft comes with dual electric motors and is completely CO2 emission free. It is also very silent in flight, allowing you to relax for the flight period of one hour in the air.
BWB Blended Wing Body Aircraft
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Researchers at NASA are busy at work on the prototype of a flying wing called the BWB, claiming it to be a more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient aircraft than traditional ones. The aircraft does not feature a tail like traditional aircrafts, but comes with blended body wings that help in its movement. NASA believes that this design could help curb the fuel usage and emission issues experienced by standard aircrafts.
Image Source : Nasa.Gov
The research program titled N+3 and run by NASA aims to create aircrafts that can pollute less, run on less fuel and have a quieter operation. One particular model titled the D series has been garnering a lot of positive news for a while now. The series will feature a double bubble design by reconfiguring the traditional wing and tube structure. The aircraft will use the Boundary Layer Ingestion (BLI) technique to consume less fuel, reducing overall fuel consumption by about 50%. The wider size of the plane allows for quicker loading and unloading times, although the speed is reduced by 10%.
Green Falcon – Solar Powered UAV
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A team of researchers at the Queensland University of Technology is working on a prototype for a solar powered aircraft that can be used for 24/7 air and ground surveillance. Called the Green Falcon, the UAV runs on solar power and absorbs solar energy during the day time. The energy thus absorbed is stored inside a battery pack on board the aircraft. The battery can then power the aircraft in the dark.
Fitted with infrared cameras, the Green Falcon will be used in search operations, using the cameras to locate people and then relaying the same information to ground services. The Green Falcon is also unmanned and has unrestricted air time, meaning it can be used for round the clock surveillance, making it a very versatile asset for the coverage of disaster areas.
A number of research teams from around the world are coming forward to create aircrafts that can run on less fuel, emit less toxic substances and reduce their carbon footprint without hindering functionality.