Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

Hybrid Electric Concept Plane (NASA)

Just as hybrid or turboelectric power has improved fuel efficiency in cars, boats and trains, aeronautical engineers are exploring how planes can be redesigned and configured with electrical power. One of NASA’s goals is to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.

“Our work is laying a foundation for planes that will require less fossil fuel in the future,” says Glenn Engineer Cheryl Bowman, a technical lead on the project. “Considering that the U.S. aviation industry carries over 700 million passengers every year, making each trip more fuel efficient (by up to 30 percent) can have a considerable impact on the nation’s total use of fossil fuels.”