Future planes could go green with 'engine-less taxiing'

Researchers at the University of Lincoln propose a plan for aircrafts to capture and reuse their own power, allowing for an engine-less taxi to the gate.

While we know that most of the fuel burned by aircrafts occurs during flight, we often glaze over the fact that planes expend a substantial amount of energy while simply taxiing to and from a gate. And with abundant delays and last-minute gate changes, there’s no telling just how much fuel is being wasted while planes move about the runway.

To cut down on some of this waste, researchers at the University of Lincoln have proposed a method that would allow aircrafts to capture and reuse their own power. The saved energy would power trips to and from the gate, eliminating the need for jet engine use during the process. Researchers say the plan would save on fuel, slash emissions and reduce noise pollution.

The process would work by harnessing the energy produced by the plane’s braking system during a landing. The energy would then be converted into electricity by motor-generators built into the aircraft’s landing gear. From there, the electricity would be stored and later supplied to the plane’s in-hub motors in its wheels.

The research was part of an initiative set to discover the ways in which an aircraft could capture energy during landing. While many of the ideas were neither feasible nor cost-effective, scientists at the university believe that their idea is a breakthrough for “engine-less taxiing.”

"If the next generation of aircraft that emerges over the next 15 to 20 years could incorporate this kind of technology, it would deliver enormous benefits, especially for people living near airports,” said research leader Paul Stewart in a press release. “Currently, commercial aircraft spend a lot of time on the ground with their noisy jet engines running. In the future this technology could significantly reduce the need to do that."

[via Eureka]

Photo: Abdallah/Flickr

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