Researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are looking for partners to join them in the Green Flight Challenge, a contest to produce and fly an aircraft that can average at least 100 mph, reach 4,000 feet, and achieve more than 200 passenger miles per gallon.
Embry-Riddle is one of 18 competitors selected to take part in the Green Flight Challenge, which will culminate in a two-day 200-mile race in Santa Rosa, Calif., in July 2011. A prize of $1.5 million, one of the largest to date for an air race, is being offered by the competition’s sponsors, NASA and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation.
The Embry-Riddle researchers, working at the university’s Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, plan to use a Stemme S-10 motor glider, which has a mounted nose and retractable propeller. The team proposes to replace the glider’s reciprocating engine with a more energy-efficient electric motor, which would be powered by a hybrid system of batteries and fuel cells.
“Our biggest challenge will be weight,” says Richard Pat Anderson, associate professor of aerospace engineering and principal investigator in the Embry-Riddle effort. “We’ll use high-performance batteries or hydrogen fuel cells to make electricity drive the engine.”
The Green Flight Challenge will allow a multidisciplinary team of 200 Embry-Riddle students to put their classroom knowledge to the ultimate test. Required modifications to the airframe to accommodate the engine will be designed by aerospace engineering students, electrical work will be done by electrical, mechanical, and aerospace engineering students, and fundraising for equipment and materials will be carried out by business students, according to university officials.
Sponsors and partners may be able to receive a charitable deduction for their support, as Embry-Riddle is a 501(c)3 charitable, educational institution.