Future air travel is expected to be quieter, cleaner and more eco-friendly. Experts from the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) are calling for a 50 percent cut in carbon dioxide and noise emissions by 2020 and a reduction in nitrogen oxide output by 80 percent.
The goals are ambitious, said Holger Hanselka, professor and head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany. European Union's 'Clean Sky' project comprises 86 participating industry and research partners from 16 countries.
Their goal is to develop unique technologies for specific applications and to evaluate and advance the entire aeronautics system. 'At every level of the undertaking, goals must be precisely defined, so that everyone knows exactly what he or she has to do,' said John Simpson, the Fraunhofer programme manager and steering member. For the first time, the researchers also intend to take into account the life cycle of materials within airline construction. Until now, aircraft headed for retirement were extremely difficult to scrap and dispose of. Specialists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, for example, developed special plastics that not only possess the exact material characteristics desired by the manufacturer, but can also be disposed of at the end of their economic lives in an environmentally sound manner.
'Airplane manufacturers who had hitherto built their aircraft primarily at manufacturing plants want to automate their production in the future,' explains Hanselka. Therefore, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM are investigating the best way of joining the most important lightweight construction materials in use today, and how new paint systems can reduce frictional resistance.
The aviation industry places a particular premium on safety - for good reason, because the lives of passengers and crew depend on the integrity of the materials used being able to withstand mercurial pressure and temperature conditions, among others.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems are currently engineering a demonstrator that can measure deformations as they occur when an airplane takes off or lands. Right after safety comes health and passenger well-being. So, for example, testing should indicate if a newly developed material diminishes the air quality in the passenger cabin.
In the Flight Test Facility at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, researchers can simulate the pressure, temperature and moisture conditions during a flight, says a Fraunhofer release. Fraunhofer will present their initial findings at ILA, the international aerospace trade show in Berlin, from June 8 to 13.