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  • Lasers sought to map jet emissions

Mar 2012
Travelers concerned about the carbon footprint – or carbon trail, if you will – left behind by airplanes might be happy to hear about a British endeavor in which lasers could lead to greener jet engines.

The project, called FLITES (fiber-laser imaging of gas turbine exhaust species), focuses on a laser expected to help scientists better understand the combustion process in jet engines – and thereby design engines that produce lower emissions.

In development at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), the system will map chemical species and soot in the exhaust plume of jet engines, enabling the researchers to optimize the combustion process and usher in the possibility for substitution of fossil fuels with biofuels.

Courtesy of University of Southampton ORC.

The project aims to establish a world-leading capability to map several exhaust species from airplanes using tomographic imaging, according to ORC.

FLITES will underpin a new phase of low-net-carbon development under way in aviation, based on bio-derived fuels. To achieve this, extensive research in turbine engineering and combustion as well as fuel product formulation is required.

The £2.7 million (about $4.15 million) project is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and will be led by the University of Manchester. The University of Strathclyde also is involved in the study.

The prospect of lower-cost engine evaluation and monitoring – plus reduced carbon dioxide emissions and pollution – makes the work attractive to commercial partners including Rolls-Royce, Shell, Covesion, Fianium and OptoSci, who will work on the four-year study with the universities.

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