NASA are currently working their way towards developing a brand new electric aircraft that could stand as a fuel-and-cost efficient alternative to normal commercial aircrafts.
At the moment, commercial air travel accounts for an approximate 4 to 9% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases, that number is also on the rise as more and more planes enter our atmosphere. NASA plans to nip that problem in the bud with a new electric aircraft design that utilizes light-weight and compact inverters. Inverters are the central component in an electric system and provide power to the electric motor.
Traditionally, the requirement of these inverters comes with the diminishing return of how large and bulky they are, and since weight is such a critical factor in aviation NASA have begun research into developing smaller and more power efficient inverters. NASA has signed a $12 million contract with General Electric to develop a new inverter the has the power of generating a megawatt of electricity, but is only the size of a brief case.
Jim Heidmann, manager of NASA's Advanced Air Transport Technology Project, said "We're at a critical time in the history of aviation because we have an opportunity to develop systems that will reduce cost, energy consumption and noise, while opening up new markets and opportunities for American companies. It's imperative that we work with industry and academia to ensure the right technologies are available to meet demands of future passengers and carriers."
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