Jessica Dailey

EasyJet Coats Airplanes With Ultra Thin Paint To Reduce Fuel Consumption

by , 02/15/11

uk airline easyjet, easyjet airline, easyjet aircraft coating, tripleo aircraft coating, nano-technology aircraft coating

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.

uk airline easyjet, easyjet airline, easyjet aircraft coating, tripleo aircraft coating, nano-technology aircraft coating

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

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3 Comments

  1. speede541 February 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Yeah, but not really. First show me any car or truck that vaguely is sculpted like an airplane in a flight configuration. All the grills, wheel wells, rear view mirrors, undercarriages, tires, squared-off corners around the windshield, and blocky rear ends result in far, far, far more drag than this “slippery” paint coating will counter. Then you’ve got the typical driving conditions at slow speeds with lots of stopping and starting (though not so much for trucks).

    The airplane, on the other hand, has its landing gear tucked in, is streamlined from nose to tail with one design goal in mind. A passenger airplane has huge expanses of basically flat aluminum skin, void of detail, to which this paint can be applied. And the airplane itself is flying at speeds approaching 90% of the speed of sound at a steady rate — i.e. no bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go flying.

    And even with all this, the airlines are only expecting to see an incremental improvement. On your typical car (or society built of cars), I would bet money the efficiency gain would be indistinguishable.

  2. caeman February 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Any object that moves through air should benefit from this. Imagine if 200 million cars in America had something like this. The individual drivers might not see that much benefit, maybe a few gallons a year, but multiplied by an entire population of drivers, it would be huge. And tractor trailers, already an enemy of aerodynamics, should see an improvement. In this game to cut fuel use, every little bit helps.

  3. lazyreader February 16, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Would it have been cheaper to simply coat the planes in KY Jelly.

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