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NASA funds aviation research on a new fuel concept

May 13, 2019 / Debra Levey Larson

Researchers at the University of Illinois are leading a newly funded project from NASA to develop a novel approach for all-electric aircraft. Although improvements in vehicle configurations and engine systems have increased flight efficiency over the past few decades, the continued dependency on hydrocarbon fuels makes aircraft operation costs volatile. It also means that commercial aviation will continue to contribute a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the national and international transportation industry. And the forecast for air travel in the United States is expected to increase 90 percent within the next 20 years, leading to even greater emissions. In an effort to address these issues, this research proposes a fundamental shift away from jet fuel towards more sustainable energy sources for aviation, and the introduction of new electrically-driven propulsion systems for commercial aircraft systems.