Keyword Tag Sort by

Categories: Wings Engineering Aircraft emissions Airline fuel Technology Aircraft

Wings that waggle could cut aircraft emissions by 20%

Wings which redirect air to waggle sideways could cut airline fuel bills by 20% according to research by the University of Warwick funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Airbus in the UK.

The new approach, which promises to dramatically reduce mid-flight drag, uses tiny air powered jets which redirect the air, making it flow sideways back and forth over the wing.

The jets work by the Helmholtz resonance principle - when air is forced into a cavity the pressure increases, which forces air out and sucks it back in again, causing an oscillation – the same phenomenon that happen when blowing over a bottle.

Dr Duncan Lockerby, from the University of Warwick, who is leading the project, said: “This has come as a bit of a surprise to all of us in the aerodynamics community. It was discovered, essentially, by waggling a piece of wing from side to side in a wind tunnel.”

“The truth is we’re not exactly sure why this technology reduces drag but with the pressure of climate change we can’t afford to wait around to find out. So we are pushing ahead with prototypes and have a separate three year project to look more carefully at the physics behind it.”

Simon Crook, EPSRC Senior manager for aerospace & defence, said: "This could help drastically reduce the environmental cost of flying. Research like this highlights the way UK scientists and engineers continue to make significant contributions to our lives."

The research, also part-funded by EADS Innovation Works, is being carried out with scientists at Cardiff, Imperial, Sheffield, and Queen's University Belfast.

It is still at concept stage but it is hoped the new wings could be ready for trials as early as 2012.

If successful this technology could also have a major impact on the aerodynamic design and fuel consumptions of cars, boats and trains.


- The UK aviation industry has announced targets to reduce emissions per passenger km by 50% by 2020.

- Part of these savings will be made from lighter aircraft plus improvements in engines and fuel efficiencies but drag (friction caused by is also a major factor in fuel consumption during flights.

Engineers have known for some time that tiny ridges known as ‘riblets’ - like those found on sharks bodies - can reduce skin-friction drag, (a major portion of mid-flight drag), by around 5%. But the new micro-jet system being developed by Dr Lockerby and his colleagues could reduce skin friction drag by up to 40%,

- More information on EPSRC funded ‘Active Aircraft’ projects can be found here  
- The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £740 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. 
EPSRC Press Office,, 01793 44 444404, Out of hours: 0776 889 4281
Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick, Email:, Tel +44 (0)24 76 523708 

Source: University of Warwick,  Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Photos (1)  [ view all photos ]

Related News:

Graphene membranes may lead to enhanced natural gas production,... 8 October 2012, 13:34
Engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado Boulder have produced the first...

Researchers Turn Viruses Into Molecular Legos 20 October 2011, 11:23
BERKELEY — Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have turned a benign virus...

Golden touch makes low-temperature graphene production a reality 12 October 2011, 10:18
A method which more than halves the temperature at which high-quality graphene can be produced...

Phone losing charge? Technology created by UCLA engineers allows... 10 August 2011, 05:03
With photovoltaic polarizers, devices could be powered by sunlight, own backlight.We've all...

Graphene optical modulators could lead to ultrafast communications 9 May 2011, 06:08
BERKELEY — Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have demonstrated a new...

Novel Nanowires Boost Fuel Cell Efficiency 31 March 2011, 11:09
New Haven, Conn. — Fuel cells have been touted as a cleaner solution to tomorrow's energy...

New fluorescent OLEDs display greater efficiencies than believed... 23 March 2011, 14:10
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—University of Michigan engineering researchers have designed an exceptionally...

Southampton scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft... 14 February 2011, 17:58
The world’s first control system that will allow engineers to programme autonomous satellites...

New equation could advance research in solar cell materials 20 October 2010, 10:20
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A groundbreaking new equation developed in part by researchers at the...

Mysterious Clouds Produced When Aircraft Inadvertently Cause Rain... 15 June 2010, 10:43
Jets, turboprops leave behind odd-shaped holes or channels in the clouds.As turboprop and jet...

Credits / Source: