A research team at the University of Lincoln has shown that it is feasible to use regenerative braking in aircraft landing gear to provide power for taxiing operations.
If incorporated into the next generation of aircraft, regenerative braking, which is currently used in automotive applications, could deliver massive benefits, said the researchers.
The aviation sector has pledged to halve its CO2 emissions by 2050 and many people are looking beyond engines, weight reduction and aerodynamics for the savings. A major area for CO2 savings is aircraft ground operations. When an aircraft moves on the ground it has to use its engines. This is far from the most effective way and is seen as a waste of fuel.
ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) has made engine-less taxiing one of the key objectives for the European aviation industry by 2050 and engineers around Europe are developing ways to achieve this goal.
The feasibility study by the University of Lincoln shows that it would be possible to capture the energy currently wasted as heat produced by friction in the aircraft’s disc brakes, convert it using motor-generators and store it as electricity. This electricity would then be supplied to in-hub motors in the wheels of plane when it taxis.
“Taxiing is a highly fuel-inefficient part of any trip by plane with emissions and noise pollution caused by jet engines being a huge issue for airports all over the world,” said Professor Paul Stewart, who led the research.