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New Center for Green Aviation

The University of Miami College of Engineering (CoE) has established a new Center for Green Aviation, funded in part with a grant from the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust. This center will allow the College to further develop green, zero-direct-emission electric aircraft – with particular focus on increasing their range and payload capacity. It is the first such research facility in the United States. In addition, the facility will allow the College to provide the next generation of electric aircraft engineers with hands-on experience in cutting-edge technologies.

The center will capitalize on the expertise and unique technology of the College’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department – which NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) and Boeing have recognized with grants and contracts.

“The Center for Green Aviation will develop technologies that make this green transportation option practical for future aviation,” says Ge-Cheng Zha, the co-director of the center and a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “We will begin with small General Aviation aircraft and thin-haul aircraft. Today’s electric aircraft can only go short distances of 100 miles or so. Our research will change the face of consumer aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial drone systems.”

Researchers at the College have already demonstrated a novel design, which would be able to fly more than twice the distance of a similarly-sized electric aircraft that used conventional design. Their new conceptual design will allow for a 510-mile range with four passengers. This design is based on a flow control technology, called Co-Flow jet airfoil, which was developed at the University of Miami. The technology offers radically increased aerodynamic efficiency and lift coefficient. Integrating that design with the College’s discoveries and expertise in aerodynamics science, electric power sources using structure batteries and multi-functional composite materials, the Center for Green Aviation will develop technologies including the ultra-high-lift, high-efficiency co-flow jet (CFJ) wing; ultra-high-capacity electric energy storage devices (UHEES); integrated multifunctional structural batteries; and high-efficiency, low-noise swept propellers. The center will be integrated with the College’s educational programs for graduate and undergraduate students.

“A few years ago, everyone thought electric cars were just a dream. Now, you see Tesla and many other manufacturers that have turned that dream into a reality. The same is going to happen with green aviation,” says Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering and director of the Center. “Now, we need partnerships between academic researchers and industry in order to update and fine-tune the technology and bring electric aircraft to market. By bringing together science, technology, engineering and practice, we will be able to develop products with tangible benefits for society. Having the University of Miami at the forefront of such a development is important, not only for the University, but for the world of aviation.”

For more information, please visit the Center for Green Aviation website at greenaviation.ccs.miami.edu.

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