The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology has embarked on a four-year project to develop ‘the ultra-eco-friendly plane’. The faculty is currently hard at work with a special research team to develop these technologies for this innovative ‘green’ aircraft in a project called CleanEra. The research team, known as DELcraFTworks, started to work in May 2007.
The world is anxiously awaiting an ultra-green, medium-sized aircraft. Not just because of the high CO2 emissions from existing aircraft but also because there seems to be no end to the growth in air traffic and transport. In 2005 Statistics Netherlands reported that the Dutch fly off on holiday 5.5 million times a year. Almost 2 million more flights than in 1998.
The final design will probably bear no resemblance to conventional planes, because the current generation of aircraft has more or less exhausted its development potential.
‘A new aircraft might be wing-shaped with a fuselage which is part of a large, more or less triangular aerofoil and thus can boost the carrying capacity. The engines should also be integrated in this construction.’
That way, they will generate less air resistance and make less noise than when suspended from the wings. Yes, it has all been tried before – in vain. But this time, with new materials and intelligent software, success should be within reach.
‘As this is a multidisciplinary project, the Delft researchers will report to eight professors, specialising in subjects ranging from aerodynamics to materials engineering. The researchers, in turn, will supervise groups of students who will concentrate exclusively on the project. All the spearhead technologies will come together in the CleanEra project. After the Nuna solar-powered racing car, the Wasub human-powered submarine, it is time to return to our roots – Aircraft Building.
“To develop new technologies for (a) revolutionary conceptual aircraft design(s) optimized for environment and passenger friendliness and investigate the feasibility of these technologies and their integration”
- To design an aircraft that surpasses the requirements set in ‘European Unions Vision 2020′
- Increase in quality and safety
- 50%+ decrease of CO2 and 80%+ decrease of NOx emissions
- 50%+ decrease of perceived noise
- Pioneering the Air Transport of the Future
- Easy maintenance
- Integration of breakthrough technologies of most aerospace design disciplines:
- Boundary layer control
- Noise reduction methods
- Shape optimization determined by the requirements that are subjected on the concept
- Flight control systems optimized for emission reduction
- Flight mechanics of unconventional aircraft
- New propulsion systems
- Alternative energy systems
- Innovative structural designs
- Non-cylindrical pressure fuselages
- Smart materials and structures
- High-lift devices
An international design team consisting of:
- Experienced project leader
- Aprox. 10-12 PhD/Post-doc researchers, each in a different discipline
- Many MSc students
- Experts from industry as advisory board
The project is considered successful when in three years time:
- there are several breakthrough technologies identified and shown feasible
- (a) preliminary design(s) can be presented
- there is serious interest from major aerospace industries and institutes
- some of the technologies can be demonstrated in a flying testbed