Gallery: Boeing Team’s SUGAR Volt Aircraft Concept Burns 70% Less Fuel


We recently reported on a program led by NASA that was aiming to green the future of air transportation, and now Boeing — along with their teammates General Electric and Georgia Tech — are following suit with their  just-revealed innovative SUGAR Volt concept which is driven by an electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system that can reduce overall fuel usage by 70%.

The N+3 program told MIT, GE Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and their teammates to look into the future of air travel. Each team has been given either the task of looking at subsonic or supersonic commercial air travel (yes, we’re stoked about supersonic commercial flights in the future too) and Boeing was given the task of looking at both. Their SUGAR Volt concept decreases aircraft fuel burn by more than 70 percent and total energy use by 55 percent — partially by “greening” the plane’s electrical grid — while reducing emissions heavily over the life of the craft.

The hybrid electric propulsion also shortens the takeoff of the flight and significantly reduces the noise of the aircraft. The team was set to the task of looking 30 years into the future at air travel and coming up with solutions for operational and environmental performance issues that arise with current aircraft models. As Boeing’s final report on the said, their concept, “is a clear winner, because it can potentially improve performance relative to all of the NASA goals.” Reducing noise and emissions related to global warming are all lovely ideas to us, but too bad we’ve got to wait 30 years to see them come to fruition. Boeing and the other companies involved in the NASA study have submitted their initial reports and after review some will receive funding for further development of their concepts.

+ Boeing


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  1. ko August 9, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Given the fact that short to medium distance air travel is in decline and faces increasing competition from High Speed Rail, I’m curious what range such aircraft is targeting to find a useful place in the world’s tranportation industry 30 years from today.

    As for supersonic aircraft, unless these will be powered by clean energy and cheap, I see no prospects and nothing to get excited about. This may have been the “future” of air travel 50 years ago when the Concorde was hatched, but that proved to be a poster child of what not to do and, in fact, Boeing’s most recent supersonic project was cancelled when it was realized there was little market for supersonic travel and what the industry needs are more efficient solutions.

  2. merefrog August 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    With a plane like this; I can start traveling by air again. The amount planes pollute presently prevents me from flying. When will this be available commercially?

  3. davidwayneosedach August 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I want to be among thfirst that try it!

  4. Mike Nemeth August 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Definitely worth pursuing.

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