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​Carlos Xisto, coordinator for MINIMAL ​
​Image: Chalmers and Unsplash

New design philosophy paves the way for greener aviation

​“This will allow us to include the impact of global warming during the early stages of engine development and filter-out concepts that otherwise might look attractive. If fully absorbed by the industry, this new design philosophy has the potential to be a game changer,” says Carlos Xisto, associate professor in fluid dynamics at Chalmers and coordinator of the project MINIMAL with the main objective to support the goal of aviation climate neutrality by 2050.
According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the climate impact from aviation in Sweden accounts for emissions as large as its entire passenger car traffic. To remedy the problem, aircrafts and engines have historically been designed targeting efficiency improvements in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But now a new international research project led by Chalmers will investigate how a new concept of designing may reduce not only carbon dioxide emissions but also other emissions – NOx, contrails and water vapor - which in short term are believed to have a relatively larger impact in global warming. Being the first of its kind, the design philosophy is considered a paradigm shift that is expected to have a major impact on the aviation industry:

“This will allow us to include the impact of global warming during the early stages of engine development and filter-out concepts that otherwise might look attractive.  If fully absorbed by industry, this new design philosophy has the potential to be a game changer,” says Carlos Xisto, Associate Professor in Fluid Dynamics at Chalmers University of Technology and coordinator of the project.

The project is called MINIMAL and was started on 1 September with funding from the EU and UKRI. MINIMAL is based on a unique collaboration between universities and engine manufacturers across Europe. With researchers and companies from different disciplines and industries, the project aims to unite sciences and experiences that together can make air traffic significantly greener.

“In MINIMAL, the concept of designing for minimum climate impact will be taken to a higher level, through an unprecedented collaborative effort between major European engine OEMs, lead researchers in aircraft propulsion in Europe, and world recognized scientists in atmospheric physics. One of the most important outcomes of MINIMAL will be to bridge knowledge between atmospheric science and engine design to create more climate-friendly propulsion technology for aviation, says Carlos Xisto.

With funding from the EU and UKRI of six million euros, the researchers will now be able to carry out advanced experiments that, together with computational and aero-thermal-mechanical climate impact studies, can test new design concepts. The aspiration is to eventually introduce the concept to the industry for further development and brought to the market as early as 2035 – 2040, thus paving the way for an air traffic compatible with the environmental goals established in the Paris Agreement.

“I hope that MINIMAL is one of those projects that could influence the aviation industry in the short-medium term. The main objective of MINIMAL is to investigate and provide experimental proof of concept of climate friendly propulsion technology that has the potential to reduce non-CO2 and CO2 emissions substantially for a sustainable aviation future,” says Carlos Xisto.

For more info, contact Carlos Xisto: carlos.xisto@chalmers.se or +46-31-7721412. 
Twitter: @minimal_project

More about the MINIMAL project: 
• Funding: EUR 6 million (approx. SEK 62 million) from Europe Horizon 2020 and UKRI over a four-year period
• The MINIMAL project is coordinated by Carlos Xisto, docent at the division of fluid dynamics at the department of mechanics and maritime studies at Chalmers.
• The rest of the team includes Cranfield University - UK, Bauhaus Luftfahrt - Germany, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - Greece, Technische Universiteit Delft - Netherlands, GKN Aerospace - Sweden, Rolls Royce PLC - UK, MTU Aeroengines - Germany, ARTTIC Innovation - Germany, Reaction Engines - UK.

Text: Lovisa Håkansson

Page manager Published: Mon 12 Sep 2022.