Technology 2 min read

New Airplane Concept Could Reduce Nitrogen Oxide Emissions

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Nitrogen oxide emissions are a significant source of air pollution.

They are harmful gases that react to form smog and acid rain. However, the greenhouse gas is vital to the formation of fine particulates (PM) and ozone in the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, besides its environmental effect, nitrogen oxide is also harmful to human health. In fact, medical experts have linked the deadly gas with respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disorders.

NOx is one of aviation’s biggest air pollution problems. According to MIT, generations of nitrogen oxide emissions from global aviation results in 16,000 premature deaths annually.

Now, a team of engineers has devised a solution. It’s a hybrid-electric airplane concept that could cut NOx emissions by a whopping 95 percent.

In a statement about the project, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, Steven Barrett said:

 “If you want to get to a net-zero aviation sector, this is a potential way of solving the air pollution part of it, which is significant, and in a way that’s technologically quite viable.”

The team published their design details in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

A Hybrid-Electric Plane Concept to Cut Nitrogen Oxide Emissions

As in a regular plane, a gas turbine still serves as the primary source of thrust in the hybrid-electric concept.

However, the design places the turbines in the plane’s cargo hold instead of the wings. That way, they could drive a generator to produce the electricity, which would, in turn, power wing-mounted electric propellers.

The engineers also suggested using an emissions-control system to reduce the turbine’s emissions further.

Barrett noted:

“This design would add some hundreds of kilograms to a plane, as opposed to adding many tons of batteries, which would be over a magnitude of extra weight.”

For example, implementing the hybrid-electric system on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 would add extra weight. As such, the plane could require 0.6 percent more fuel to fly.

However, the design would also eliminate 95 percent of NOx emissions. What’s more, it could cut pollution-related deaths due to aviation by 92 percent.

We need to get to essentially zero net-climate impacts and zero deaths from air pollution,” Barrett concluded.

Read More: Increased Emission of Nitrous Oxide Alarms Scientists

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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