Jun 262010

Minix Wing Tip Device

Fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are huge priorities in the aviation industry – passenger airliners chew through amazing quantities of fuel.

Take the Boeing 747, which guzzles somewhere around a gallon of jet fuel per second – it’s clear that a percentile improvement in fuel consumption can make a huge difference to costs at the end of a long-haul flight. That’s why the Minix wing tip deserves close scrutiny. It replaces the tilted winglets at the tip of an aircraft wing, can be retrofitted to any airplane, and smooths out the wing-tip vortex, reducing the aircraft’s wing drag. Minix claims the design is five times more effective than a regular winglet and can save as much as 6% on an aircraft’s energy costs. For a commercial Boeing 747, that equates to a saving of around 600,000 gallons of fuel per year, per aircraft. Food for thought.

Air travel gets a fair bit of bad press in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions, but in truth, provided you’re traveling in excess of 500km, in a plane full of other passengers, the numbers would put it about level with driving that distance solo in an average car.

That’s not to say that global air travel doesn’t make a significant contribution to emissions, or that it’s a super fuel-efficient way to travel – just that it’s not as bad on these two axes as many people think.

Still, jumbo jets and other large aircraft do go through a staggering amount of fuel per journey, so an opportunity for a tiny efficiency gain is an opportunity to save significant money, as well as helping lower emissions.

French aeronautics teacher Christian Hugues believes he’s come up with an aerodynamics breakthrough that could increase an aircraft’s fuel economy by a massive 6% – and Gizmag checked it out earlier this week at the Paris Green Air Show.

Read more . . .

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