NASA Aeronautics Outlines Tantalizing R&D Projects

A new type of fuel cell, increasing an electric motor's output via 3D printing, lithium-air batteries, and changing the shape of an aircraft's wing in flight are among five aviation-related new technologies that personnel involved in NASA's Convergent Aeronautics Solutions project will be studying.

A new type of fuel cell, increasing an electric motor's output via 3D printing, lithium-air batteries, and changing the shape of an aircraft's wing in flight are among five aviation-related new technologies that personnel involved in NASA's Convergent Aeronautics Solutions project will be studying in the near term, Jim Banke of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate announced in an online article Aug. 5.

His article quoted Doug Rohn, NASA's manager for the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program:"These five innovative concepts, in addition to the six we selected in 2015, have the potential to help us solve some of the biggest challenges we face in aviation."

They hope to find solutions that decrease fuel use and reduce noise around airports, "all at a time when the skies are being filled with an increasing amount of traffic all across the globe," he wrote. "And just as was the case last year, it's very possible that after these studies are completed, researchers may find that for whatever reason – technology, cost, the laws of physics – the answer is no, it's not feasible. At least not right now."

Five study teams have been selected this year; they work at NASA's aeronautics centers in Virginia, California, and Ohio.

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