Less drag, less fuel

David Zingg, director of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and founding director of the Centre for Research in Sustainable Aviation (CRSA) says that they are concentrating on research towards technological improvements to reduce emissions and noise.

CRSA recent research projects have examined biofuels, composites, and noise reduction methods. Zingg himself has done extensive research into ultra-low drag aircraft and says: "The amount of fuel you burn is directly proportional to aerodynamic drag. And the amount of CO2 you emit is directly proportional to the amount of fuel you burn. So less drag, less fuel."

To reduce drag, CRSA researchers have examined unconventional designs for aircraft wings and fuselages. Such research has global implications, given that airplanes contribute to greenhouse gas emissions which in turn lead to climate change.


Green is on the horizon

Horizon Aircraft is building a plane called the X3 – a first-of-its-kind hybrid, electric amphibious aircraft. The X3 is a propeller-driven plane with electric motors and a range-extending gas engine. Its makers promise fuel savings of 30%, emissions reductions of 30%, and a 50% decrease in noise pollution, because the plane can fly quietly on pure electric power. Horizon President and CEO, Brandon Robinson says: "It's like a hybrid electric car, only a little more intelligent."

The X3 was primarily designed by Robinson's father Brian, a professional engineer with a degree from the University of Waterloo. The X3 grew out of Robinson's tinkering with a Seabee propeller plane he owned.

The company has flown a 25% size prototype of the X3 and is currently working on a full-scale prototype. The final X3 plane will be 35 feet long with a 43.5 foot wingspan, a maximum cruising speed of 200mph and a range of 800 nautical miles. The X3 can fly four people and land on water or ground. Horizon anticipates that the full flying X3 prototype will be ready in 2 years.

Maximum thrust: Kinetic Energy Recovery

MDS Aero Support Corporation also works to help protect the environment. The company tests aviation, industrial and marine gas turbine engines for fuel consumption and emissions.

Doug Marsh, MDS Director of Research and Technology, explains: "When you are testing a typical turbine engine, it's a bit of a wasteful exercise, because all that energy is going up the tailpipe. We have a patented technology that allows us to capture that energy that is pretty groundbreaking. We can mount equipment in an existing or a new testing facility to harness that energy and use it to produce electrical power. We call it our Kinetic Energy Recovery (KER) system."

A large turbine is installed in the exhaust system of the test cell. The kinetic energy is harnessed from the airflow by the thrust produced by the engine and that energy turns the turbine, and the spinning turbine turns an electric generator. Electricity produced by the generator is fed back into the electrical grid.

The KER system is still in development – MDS plans to have a scale model for research purposes, possibly by early 2017.

Quiet, clean and sustainable aerospace

Canada's Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN) aims for the advancement of green technologies through collaborative research and development with the objective of creating quieter, cleaner, and more sustainable aviation.

"We increase the competitiveness of Canada's aerospace industry through the reduction of the environmental footprint of their products and services," explains Sylvain Cofsky, Executive Director of GARDN. "With other partners from across Canada, we work with important organisations from Ontario and I am proud of the collective effort from the industrial and research partners."

Taking the initiative on green aerospace

For Ontario, it's green skies ahead. Research and development into new airplane designs, fuel and components are driving changes that are imperative for the health of the sector, economy and planet.


July 26, 2016

Share on

Feedback: Was this page useful?

Talk to a business consultant

Request a conversation

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up now

Newsletter Sign Up

Form is for business purposes.

Back to top