Researchers are beginning to weigh the environmental trade-offs associated with decarbonizing air travel by switching to hydrogen combustion, hydrogen fuel cells and lithium batteries. Keith Button tells the story.
Lithium-air batteries have intrigued futurists with their promise of storing vastly more electricity than today’s lithium-ion versions. But they have always suffered from an Achilles’ heel: They couldn't be charged and discharged over and over again, as required for commercial applications, including air travel. Keith Button spoke to researchers who have made a breakthrough in that part of the lithium-air equation.
Hydrogen-powered aircraft could prove to be the best way for the air travel industry to meet its bold commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For that to happen, hydrogen must be stored safely on these next-generation aircraft, and the question is the best way to do it. Karen Kwon tells the story.
First-generation electric delivery drones and passenger air taxis could be too noisy for many communities, so researchers are attempting to engineer electric thrusters of unprecedented quietness. Paul Marks delves into their chances of success.
The U.S. Air Force’s strategy for ensuring the nuclear deterrence and conventional firepower of its bomber forces through the 2050s and beyond will require installing commercial jet engines onto its B-52s. Jan Tegler spoke to the Air Force and industry managers who must pull off this re-engining on time and on budget.
NASA has long been working with the FAA and the aviation industry to improve technologies for containing broken fan blades and preventing damage like that which killed a Southwest Airlines passenger. Keith Button looks at a research project that could help prevent future tragedies.