The technology group at LAE aims to develop and evaluate novel aviation technologies which reduce the climate impacts of aviation.
If the world aims to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5-2°C, and if aviation is expected to deliver on this goal while enabling the economic and cultural benefits of continued growth, a reduction in aviation’s climate intensity of 90-95% is required. Yet, over the scale of almost a century starting in the 1950s, the fundamental design of commercial aircraft in our skies will have remained almost unchanged. While an average efficiency improvement of 1-2% per year has been achieved so far, this has been far outpaced by growth. As such, aircraft that are derivatives of today’s designs and technologies cannot be expected to achieve our sustainability goals without limiting access to global mobility.
Research at LAE aims (i) to evaluate novel aircraft technologies to understand their environmental impacts, and (ii) to develop novel technologies which will reduce aviation’s climate impacts. In particular, the team works to
- assess novel technologies for gas turbines such as emission control devices, which have the potential to significantly reduce the air quality impacts of aviation.
- evaluate as to whether electric aircraft are a potential solution for reducing aviation’s climate, air quality and noise footprint.
- develop the electroaerodynamic (EAD) propulsion technology, a solid-state in-atmosphere electric propulsion technology.
Detailed results of past work can be found here.
More details about our work on EAD and electric aircraft can be found on MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative’s website.