Transport Theory

Ultra-thin coating could help airlines cut fuel consumption, costs

Posting in Technology

U.K. budget airline EasyJet wants to use a an ultra-thin, high-tech coating to cut airline fuel consumption and costs.

From Freefoto

In an attempt to reduce its fuel consumption and overall prices, U.K.'s budget airline EasyJet is planning to apply a ultra-thin hi-tech coating on its planes.

The coating -- which is 100 times thinner than the average human hair -- will smooth out any unevenness found on the plane's surface, making it significantly more aerodynamic and reducing drag.

Essentially, the coating will cut debris build-up on the aircraft’s structure.

While EasyJet is doing it from a financial perspective, the aviation industry currently accounts for two percent of global emissions, so any move that cuts fuel consumption is an important step.

Manufacturers of the coating believe that the new technology could cut the airline's fuel consumption by 1 to 2 percent, which experts say could lead to a cost reduction of about 2 percent, or about $32.3 million each year.

EasyJet spent nearly $1.2 billion on fuel last year, which they're expecting to rise to $1.6 billion with increasing prices.

Currently, the airline has begun the pilot project on eight of its aircrafts and will compare their fuel consumption to the rest of its fleet within a year. The technology has been used previously on U.S. military aircrafts, but this will be the first commercial airliner to attempt it.

The way this works is actually fairly simple: The airline coating is applied in two layers: a positively charged wash, with a negatively charged main emulsion. The opposing charges pull the molecules in the two coats magnetically into the pores and keeps them there. This bonds the ultra-thin protective coating into the paint.

If successful, the experiment could lead to huge savings for the airline industry and significant CO2 reductions, and that's something we'd like to see.

[via Daily Mail]

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Ami Cholia

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Ami Cholia has written for AltTransport, Inhabitat, The Huffington Post and Sunday Mid Day in India. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure