Aircraft are responsible for a staggering 11% of the United States’ CO2 emissions, however a lot of work is being done to make them more environmentally friendly. Plane designers are doing everything from developing biofuels and more efficient engines to experimenting with lighter construction materials. A recent report from energyNOW! correspondent Josh Zepps reveals the innovations that aviation designers are pursuing to make flying as green as possible.

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I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that among the many companies developing next generation planes is NASA. At the space administration’s Langley Air and Space Research Center, America’s brightest are working on reducing the weight and drag of planes in order to improve propulsion efficiency.

On top of that, NASA’s boffins have reportedly created a new composite material that is 10 percent lighter than the most advanced carbon fiber composite materials on the market today, and 25-30 percent lighter than aluminum. Known as PRSEUS, it is almost as thin and malleable as a piece of cloth, but exponentially stronger.

Meanwhile, at the Green Lab facility in Cleveland, researchers are using science to improve the oil yield of biofuel plants. Not only will this save crops that could otherwise be used for food, but it could cuts costs — especially as the general expenditure for aviation fuel each year is $39 billion.

Last but not least, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on NextGen, an advanced system for guiding commercial flights. By creating more efficient flight paths for commercial airlines, the FAA believe they could save 1.4 billion gallons of aviation fuel and cut 14 million tons of CO2 by 2018.

This is all brilliant news, but the verdict is still out on whether it will ever be more comfortable sitting in economy class.

+ Energy Now

Via Clean Technica