Researchers with NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation project coordinated wind-tunnel tests of an Active Flow Control system. Photo courtesy NASA/Dominic Hart.
Researchers with NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation project coordinated wind-tunnel tests of an Active Flow Control system. Photo courtesy NASA/Dominic Hart.

NASA has developed a range of ‘green’ technologies which it says could US airlines more than US$250 billion dollars.

Under the organization’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project NASA has spent the last six years exploring the feasibility, benefits and technical risk of inventive vehicle concepts and enabling technologies that would reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. Project researchers focused on eight major integrated technology demonstrations falling into three categories – airframe technology, propulsion technology and vehicle systems integration. These new technologies could reportedly cut airline fuel use in half, pollution by 75% and noise to nearly one-eighth of today’s levels.

The technologies include a new process for stitching together large sections of lightweight composite materials to create damage-tolerant structures. These structures could be used in building future aircraft weighing as much as 20% less than a similar all-metal aircraft.

NASA also studied a hybrid wing body concept in which the wings join the fuselage in a continuous, seamless line and the jet engines are mounted on top of the airplane in the rear.

This story uses material from NASA, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.