Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Superconducting Turbojet

Date:
June 20, 2007
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
An all-electric aircraft could soon appear over the horizon. The new type of aircraft, currently on the drawing board, could be far more efficient than conventional aircraft, produce less greenhouse emissions, and be quieter. Air travel is on the increase, but it comes at a price in terms of the emissions driving climate change. Aircraft currently account for about 5% of UK emissions with a single long-haul flight the equivalent of a ton of carbon dioxide per passenger.

An all-electric aircraft could soon appear over the horizon according to an article in the Institute of Physics' journal, Superconductor Science and Technology. The new type of aircraft, currently on the drawing board, could be far more efficient than conventional aircraft, produce less greenhouse emissions, and be quieter.

Air travel is on the increase, but it comes at a price in terms of the emissions driving climate change. Aircraft currently account for about 5% of UK emissions with a single long-haul flight the equivalent of a ton of carbon dioxide per passenger. With such worrying figures making the headlines, alternatives to combustion-based propulsion systems could be the key.

Superconducting motors could be one such alternative, according to scientists in America. Philippe Masson and Cesar Luongo from Florida State University, who have collaborated with Gerald Brown at NASA and Danielle Soban at Georgia Institute of Technology, explain that because superconductors lose no energy through electrical resistance, they could be very efficient components for a new type of aircraft propulsion.

The researchers explain that to build an electric aircraft will require propulsion motors that are high power, lightweight and compact. Current technology cannot meet these demands because an electric motor using conventional magnets can weigh up to five times as much as conventional jet engine and not be as fuel efficient.

In contrast, a superconducting motor would be very lightweight and far more efficient electrically, generating three times the torque of a conventional electric motor for the same energy input and weight. In addition, an electric aircraft would be far quieter than a conventional jet as there are no internal combustion processes involved. It is the combustion of fossil fuels to drive a conventional aircraft that makes them so noisy.

However, superconducting magnets not only have to be cold, but require a unique energy supply. Masson and his colleagues believe they could solve both problems by using chilly liquid hydrogen to run an electric fuel cell. Liquid hydrogen is cold enough to make the superconducting magnets work but also has four times as much energy weight for weight than aviation fuel.

A fuel cell produces no polluting emissions, just warm water as the hydrogen combines with oxygen. This, say the researchers would mean zero carbon emissions from the aircraft as it flies. "The idea is to reduce the emissions from the aircraft and airports," explains team leader Masson, "The energy needed to produce the liquid hydrogen could come from a remote powerplant". Such a powerplant might be solar or wind powered.

"We could potentially build a superconducting motor and generator smaller than a gas turbine, which would make possible electric propulsion," says Masson. Electrical propulsion would not only decrease emissions but also reduce to a minimum the needs for maintenance as all hydraulic systems would be eliminated, he adds. The team has designed such systems with high fidelity models and optimization tools.

Masson adds that the team is now looking for an industrial partner to build a prototype of the superconducting "turbofan". "The technology is there," he says, "it is a matter of finding a source of funding."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Superconducting Turbojet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619183236.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2007, June 20). Superconducting Turbojet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619183236.htm
Institute of Physics. "Superconducting Turbojet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070619183236.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins