A high-tech coating used on military aircraft could make commercial planes more aerodynamic and allow them to fly more efficiently through the air. Budget airline EasyJet has applied the coating, invented by TripleO, to eight of its aircraft and will compare their fuel consumption to the rest of the fleet over the course of the year. If successful, all 194 of EasyJet’s aircraft will be coated. Experts say the coating could cut fuel costs by 2 percent, which would save EasyJet £20 million each year.
The nano-technology has been used on U.S. military aircraft, but this is the first time a U.K. airline has applied it to commercial planes. The coating, which is 100 times thinner than a human hair, smooths out microscopic bumps and nicks on a plane’s surface, letting it glide more easily when in flight, ultimately cutting fuel consumption and cost. It adds only 4 oz. of weight to the aircraft, and reduces the buildup of debris on the aircraft’s surface, thus reducing drag.
To work, the coating must be applied in two stages. First an aircraft is washed in a special solution to purge the plane’s pores and give it a positive electric charge. Then the main coating is applied with a negative charge. The oppositely charged molecules are pulled into any spaces and magnetically held there. The coating contains durable acrylic elements that create a perfectly smooth surface by filling the pores with a special resin. The coating also prevents the penetration of any contaminants or debris.
The fuel savings will result in a lower carbon footprint and lower costs, which will be passed on to airline passengers through ticket prices. Last year, EasyJet’s fuel cost was nearly £750 million, and with rising fuel prices, that could jump to £1 billion this year.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Airplanes use massive amounts of fuel, so any reduction in fuel consumption will result in less CO2 emissions, thus helping to curb global warming. If EasyJet’s trial with TripleO’s nano-technology coating is successful, more commercial airlines could start using it, meaning more airlines would reduce CO2 emissions.
Via Daily Mail
Images © EasyJet