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Thu12182014

Technology

Boeing, U.N.S.W. getting hopes up for lighter-weight, more fuel efficient aircraft

Stronger and more lightweight materials could result into more fuel efficient aircraft.

With the rising concern over aviation industry’s emissions, many major air carriers are seeking to reduce their fossil fuel use – either through the development of alternative fuels or more fuel-efficient aircraft.

To this extent, air carrier Boeing is looking into new, lighter-weight materials for their aircraft. Boeing Research and Technology is working with aerospace and materials engineers from the University of New South Wales to develop carbon fiber reinforced polymers.

Carbon fiber reinforced polymers are composite materials that are becoming more and more common in the design of the modern aircraft.

According to Boeing, composites make up more than 50 percent of the new 787 aircrafts by weight.

“These materials have excellent strength-to-weight ratio, which is great for aircraft design, but we are still very conservative with our design philosophy,” said Dr. Garth Pearce, a lecturer in the U.N.S.W. School of Mechanical and Manufacturing.

The research team will study the molecular composition of these materials to better understand their durability and establish a “physics-based method” to determine the onset of failure.

By being able to better predict when, where and how the materials will fail and crack, the materials can better be used in aircraft design.

“If we can improve the performance of polymer composites, even marginally, we can have a huge impact on the weight of the next-generation of aeroplanes,” said Mr. Pearce.

Lighter-weight aircraft would have better fuel efficiency and would also have the capability to carry larger payloads or more passengers. – EcoSeed Staff



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