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Companies test first-of-its-kind engine that could revolutionize air travel: 'The most efficient and sustainable option'

"This series of wind tunnel tests is a major milestone."

"This series of wind tunnel tests is a major milestone."

Photo Credit: Safran

The aviation industry is responsible for a massive amount of planet-overheating air pollution. To make airplanes more fuel-efficient, one group of companies is attempting to redesign them to look a bit more like early aircrafts, Autoevolution reported.

According to the International Energy Agency, the aviation industry is currently not on track to meet climate goals. The industry accounted for 2% of all global energy-related carbon pollution in 2022, the IEA said — quite a large amount when you consider what a small percentage of the people on Earth ever actually fly in an airplane, never mind within a given year.

However, a group of organizations — including French engine maker Safran Aircraft Engines, French American aerospace company CFM International, France's ONERA (Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales), and GE Aerospace — have formed the RISE program. This partnership has led to Safran and ONERA testing a new engine design called the Open Fan powerplant.

Modern airplanes are built around an engine enclosed in a protective container called a nacelle, but the Open Fan powerplant would not have the fan completely enclosed, making it resemble a more old-timey propeller. The design is "the most efficient and sustainable option to improve the propulsive efficiency of the engine," according to Autoevolution.

Safran recently completed testing on the device at ONERA's facilities and reported that "Open Fan aims to reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions by 20%."

"This series of wind tunnel tests is a major milestone in our Research & Technology roadmap, which aims to develop the technological building blocks for the next breed of commercial jet engines," said Pierre Cottenceau, VP of Engineering and R&T for Safran Aircraft Engines.

Another similar type of redesigned jet engine is also in the works from General Electric Aerospace and NASA. The scientists designing it say that it could reduce fuel use by up to 10%. Other recent attempts at reducing pollution from the aviation industry include sustainable fuels and electric flying machines.

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