Electric Hybrid Plane Developed By Cambridge Engineers Takes Off
Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. While there have been some solutions for automobiles in terms of hybrid and electric vehicles, airplanes still guzzle a massive amount of fossil fuels each year.
A joint project by the engineers from Cambridge might have some clues to solving the above mentioned issue. They have developed a single seater hybrid aircraft that took its first flight recently.
The one major issue that has held the development of an electric planes has been the limitations of battery technology. This plane is powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system. The system allows the plane’s propellers to gain energy from petrol as well as electric engines.
The engineers utilized sixteen large lithium-polymer cells and installed them in the wings of the aircraft. This plane is capable of recharging the battery mid-flight, which is a milestone achievement. The electric motor and the petrol engine work in coordination during take-off and landing, when maximum energy is required. Once the plane has achieved its cruising speed, there are two modes of use for the electric motor. It can either be set to recharge the batteries or it can assist the engine. While assisting the engine, the electric motor helped save up to 30% fuel during the duration of the flight.
The creators of this experimental aircraft say that the success of this vehicle shows the possibility of alternative fuel based back-up system for more efficiency, safety and clean transportation.
This aircraft is still an experimental vehicle but the result of its flight is encouraging. If the technology can be scaled up in the near future, it could help save a lot of precious aviation fuel and of course, a bit of the environment.