One of, if not the biggest, hurdles to be overcome if solar power plants are to replace conventional fossil fuel-based power plants is cost. To be feasible, solar power plants generally require investment from forward thinking companies
or governmental tax incentives. In an effort to make solar power plants – specifically Concentrated Solar Power Towers (CSP) and their accompanying thermal storage systems – more attractive, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne US$10.2 million to develop technologies aimed at significantly lowering the electricity costs of such solar plants.
The second hypersonic test flight of Boeing's X-51A Waverider has ended prematurely with the craft failing to transition to full power. The X-51A Waverider broke the record for the longest ever supersonic combustion scramjet-powered flight on its first autonomous flight
in May 2010, flying under scramjet power for just under three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. For the second hypersonic flight test, the craft was expected to accelerate to about Mach 6, but only managed to accelerate to Mach 5 under solid rocket booster propulsion before the flight had to be terminated.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
(JSF) program continues to rack up the milestones with the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant breaking the sound barrier for the first time. The F-35B, which completed its first vertical landing
in March, hit Mach 1.07 (727 miles per hour) in an off-shore test on June 10 and will be put through a series of supersonic flights that will gradually take the aircraft towards its top speed of Mach 1.6. The F-35B STOVL marks the first time in 100 years of military aviation that a plane has combined radar-evading stealth, VTOL and supersonic speed and may go some way towards justifying the program's other milestone achievement of being the most expensive weapons program in military history.
Boeing's X-51 WaveRider has made aviation history by completing the longest ever supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV
) flew for almost three and a half minutes in the skies off the southern California coast on Wednesday, reaching an altitude of about 70,000 feet and hitting hypersonic (Mach 5) speeds.
The contribution of aircraft to greenhouse gas emissions has been well documented and while biofuels are being trialled
in an effort to combat the issue, an expected doubling in air traffic by 2035 suggests that a fundamental shift in technology is needed to make real progress. That's the starting point for the D “double bubble” – a design concept presented to NASA by an MIT led research team which promises a 70 percent improvement in fuel economy, reduced noise, lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and the ability to use shorter runways.
The F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter
has completed its first vertical landing. The Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) demonstration saw Lead Pilot Graham Tomlinson perform an 80-knot (93 miles per hour) short takeoff, a one minute hover and a vertical descent onto a 95-foot square pad riding more than 41,000 pounds of thrust provided by the Rolls-Royce LiftFan system.
The US Navy is a step closer to taking possession of its first-ever stealth fighter, the F-35C Lightning II. The 5th generation supersonic fighter plane was displayed at the company’s Fort Worth plant in front of top navy personnel this week and will undergo a wide-ranging series of ground tests before its first flight, scheduled for late 2009.
July 6, 2008 Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan
demonstrator engine has been cleared for flight-testing. By incorporating a gearbox system into the engine, aircraft can achieve a 12% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, a 50% reduction in NOx emissions, and a 50% reduction in engine noise. The GTF engine has been chosen by Mitsubishi to power the company’s Regional Jet (scheduled to enter service in 2013), and the upcoming Bombardier CSeries.