Boeing's hybrid plane could burn 70 percent less fuel

Summary:Boeing's concept SUGAR Volt plane features foldable wings and uses a combination of electric and traditional fuel power.

When asked by NASA to predict the future of airplane design, a team of Boeing engineers dreamt up a hybrid plane that plugs in much like the Prius or Chevy Volt.

Called the SUGAR (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research) Volt, the concept Boeing aircraft will combine electric power with traditional fuel, vastly cutting down on inflight emissions.

Gizmodo reports:

Every time it’s at the gate, the Volt will draw electricity from the airport’s power grid, charging an array of batteries stored in the belly of the plane. Dual-turbine engines would be powered by traditional jet fuel for takeoff, but once the Volt reaches cruising altitude, the system will switch over to electrical power for the rest of the flight.

By making the switch to electric power once the plane has reached cruising altitude, the engineers believe that entire swaths of the flight could be made completely emission-free. In total, the SUGAR Volt will require only 30 percent of the fuel of a traditional aircraft.

Making the plane even more energy efficient are its wings, which stretch almost twice as long as today’s typical aircrafts. The extended wingspan will allow for greater lift, translating to shorter take offs and landings, and will fold up upon landing for easy parking at the airport gate.

Due to battery technology that Boeing researchers feel simply isn’t up to par for such an endeavor, the SUGAR Volt won’t take flight until at least 2030.

Video, Images: Boeing

[via Gizmodo, Inhabitat]

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

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Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter.

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