New super-slippery aircraft coating 'could cut airline costs'

New super-slippery aircraft coating 'could cut airline costs'

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A new ‘super-slippery’ material has been invented which could allow aircraft to fly with less resistance and could cut the cost of travel.

The new coating, invented by Nasa, would reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency, it is predicted.

Up to now even the tiniest pieces of debris in the air, such as insects, trigger swirling air turbulence which perturbs the airstream, making it harder for an aircraft to push through.

The new substance is reportedly designed on the microscopic pits and ridges of the lotus leaf which naturally repels water. It will allow insects to simply slip off the side rather than stick, causing more resistance.

Nasa forecasts that debugging aircraft combined with new designs to take advantage of the smoother airflow could improve fuel efficiency by more than 1%, the Daily Telegraph reported.

This could see costs for an airline like British Airways fall by £35 million a year.

“I think we’re definitely on the right track,” said Fay Collier, project manager of Nasa’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project told Bloomberg. “This has been a tremendous step forward.”

Collier, who has worked on the problem for decades, hopes the work will make it easier for aircraft designers to finally achieve the Holy Grail of ‘laminar flow’ – the most efficient flow of air of water over an object.

“Our job is to help mature some of these technologies where the risk is reduced to the point where it can be seriously considered,” Collier said

Environmental groups say it is critical for technologies like the anti-insect coating to be put into service as soon as possible if the world is to stave off extreme temperature increases due to man-made climate change.

“It’s one of the fastest growing emission sources, certainly the fastest in the transportation sector,” Sarah Burt, staff lawyer at the environmental group Earthjustice.


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