Mar 012012
 

They could use this to power their taxiing to and from airport buildings

 
Tomorrow’s aircraft could contribute to their power needs by harnessing energy from the wheel rotation of their landing gear to generate electricity.

They could use this to power their taxiing to and from airport buildings, reducing the need to use their jet engines. This would save on aviation fuel, cut emissions and reduce noise pollution at airports.

The feasibility of this has been confirmed by a team of engineers from the University of Lincoln with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The energy produced by a plane’s braking system during landing — currently wasted as heat produced by friction in the aircraft’s disc brakes — would be captured and converted into electricity by motor-generators built into the landing gear. The electricity would then be stored and supplied to the in-hub motors in the wheels of the plane when it needed to taxi.

‘Engine-less taxiing’ could therefore become a reality. ACARE (the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) has made engine-less taxiing one of the key objectives beyond 2020 for the European aviation industry.

“Taxiing is a highly fuel-inefficient part of any trip by plane with emissions and noise pollution caused by jet engines being a huge issue for airports all over the world,” says Professor Paul Stewart, who led the research.

“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. 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.”

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