NASA Designs Plane Modifications to Save Fuel

A seemingly simple change to airplane design can make a huge difference in fuel efficiency: add another engine. Yes, as counterintuitive as it sounds, NASA has figured out that by adding an engine to the rear of the plane the airflow of the plane itself can provide more thrust. Airplanes are notoriously bad for the environment and any efficiency in fuel consumption has a significant impact on emissions.

NASA’s idea is pretty straightforward: place a large turbofan engine on the rear of a plane, where it will collect the slow-moving air traveling along the plane’s body. This lets the wing-mounted turbofans be built smaller, which means less drag and a higher fuel efficiency.

That by itself would mean a minor improvement to fuel use, but NASA decided to go a step further. The engineers also added generators to the wing-mounted turbofans, and the electricity generated by these engines is used to power the tail-mounted one. This means that the rear turbofan that provides much of the plane’s thrust doesn’t require any fuel to operate.

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Amazing Algae Aviation Fuel


There has been a lot of interest into using algae as a fuel before, and recently we on Things Are Good we saw that algae can be used for nearly any engine. The aviation industry is no different when it comes to celebrating algae as they are looking into mixing kerosene with algae.

According to the ASU researchers, their kerosene provides a competitive advantage because it eliminates an expensive thermal cracking process which is necessary for traditional kerosene production.

The new algae kerosene fuel is compatible with jet planes when mixed with a small amount of fuel additives.

And with the increasing speed of new developments in algae fuel, we may all be driving around in algae-powered cars and flying algae-powered planes within the next few decades.

Paris Airport to be Powered by Water

Orly Airport, outside of Paris, will be using geothermal energy to lower their carbon footprint. They’ll drive two 1.7km long pipes into hot water that is below the surface of the airport.

“We have the unprecedented luck of having hot water below our feet that can heat a large part of Orly without CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions. We are the first airport in Europe to do this,” Pierre Graff, who is chairman and managing director of Aeroports de Paris (ADP), said on Wednesday.

The project, launched after a technical and financial feasibility study, will cost 11 million euros (17.27 million dollars). The Orly-Ouest terminal, part of Orly-South, the airport’s Hilton Hotel, and two business districts will be hooked up to the system from 2011.

EU Researching Green Planes

First off, sorry about all the posts on green airports and the overall greening of planes. The reason I post so much about it is because the primary reason I’m not jet-setting around the world is because of all the harm that flying does. Envirionmnetally friendly flying machines will allow me to see more of this neat-o planet.

So here’s some more good news on flying: the EU will invest 2.5 billion Euros into research and development of greener, leaner, air-focused transportation systems.

The thing that gets me most exicted is that the companies involved in the research have to share their findings, allowing for more innovation to happen!

Participating aerospace firms are agreeing to share their research, which should create a valuable exchange of innovative solutions. Among the ideas being explored are engines that use alternative fuels and more efficient engines to conserve fuel. Also being explored are technologies to make aircraft less noisy. This both helps to reduce noise pollution around airports, a frequent urban problem, and provides passengers with a quieter, more relaxing ride.

More on Green Flying

Singapore is going green too, the FAA is trying to green American planes, and don’t forget that you can also travel green!

To add to this list of good news, Christchurch airport is going carbon-neutral, which is really good news!

At a meeting in Christchurch the company received its carbon zero certificate from Landcare Research which chief executive Rene Bakx says comes after a detailed measurement and analysis process.

“We are the gateway for the best of the South Island, and, with an agreed focus on tourism and sustainability, the decision to work towards this goal was a straightforward one for the company to take,” he says.

He says the status has been achieved by the reduction and offsetting of greenhouse emissions by the airport company operations. Emissions from planes are not included in the calculations.

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