Why You Should Thank a Plane for Your Fuel-Efficient Car

September 10, 2015 | Author: Eric Blumer

If you’re like me, fewer trips to the gas station are a welcome thing.

With the help of technology, vehicles today have significantly increased fuel economy and reduced emissions so you can go further without stopping to fuel up. For instance, downsized turbocharged engines can increase fuel economy as much as 20 to 40 percent in gas and diesel engines when compared with naturally-aspirated gas engines.

But did you know some of the technologies that have brought in this new wave of fuel efficient cars have their roots in aerospace? It may sound like something from the Jetsons, but in fact, aerospace technology is fueling the next wave of vehicle innovations that are improving your everyday commute.

When you think about it, both the automotive and aerospace industries face similar challenges: 1) increasing fuel economy; and 2) reducing emissions; it’s simply a different customer set.

Honeywell has deep roots in both the automotive and aerospace industries. With more than 10,000 engineers co-located and collaborating across the globe, Honeywell customers from Boeing to the Scuderia Ferrari F1 race team (our lowest altitude Aerospace customer) benefit from our cross-engineering expertise and technology transfer.

From material science, ball bearing technology, aerodynamics, sensing controls, software development and thermal management we take aerospace technology and deliver it with automotive quality. For instance, did you know?:

  • Our first turbo application was created 60 years ago by our aerospace engineers in California for Caterpillar.
  • Honeywell’s auxiliary power unit on Boeing’s 737 uses similar titanium compressors and nickel based super alloy turbines and some of Honeywell’s turbochargers.
  • Honeywell’s jet engine helped Gulfstream G280 business jet be best in class in fuel economy just like Honeywell’s turbocharger helped Ford’s F250 diesel truck be best in class in fuel economy.

And, we continue to collaborate and explore technologies that will shape the future of transportation.

One of the most exciting areas Honeywell has been exploring is “electrical boosting” that enhances an engine to improve performance and meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations.>

Honeywell, in partnership with Safran, has developed the EGTS™ electric taxiing system that will alter the aircraft taxing experience as we know it. This inventive system removes the tug all together and uses the auxiliary power unit (APU) (think, ”generator”) to power electric motors on the main wheels without use of the plane’s main engine. One wheel on each main gear is equipped with an electric motor to drive the aircraft, while unique power electronics and system controllers give pilots total control of the aircraft’s speed and direction during taxi operations. This greatly reduces fuel consumption and will save airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

This electric systems expertise is now being applied to automotive electric boosting and it will be available on cars in the near future. Which means even better fuel mileage and performance in your next vehicle. And, further out even cars that could power your house or part of the electrical grid because they are so efficient and reliable using aerospace technologies. 

So when you think about inspiration for the next generation of cars, looking to the sky is not far-fetched. The possibilities are both exciting and endless for how jet engine technology under the hood of your car will transform our driving experience.

Eric Blumer

Eric Blumer

Eric has worked at Honeywell Aerospace since 1987 working in technology, new product development and business roles. Eric has patents and or published papers in the areas of lasers, aircraft integration, electric power generation, turbine engines and advanced materials. Currently his area of technology responsibility is Turbine Engines and Environmental Control Systems. Previous roles included responsibility for product development and certification of the RE220 APU and accessories for the HTF7000 turbofan engine both are used on various business jet applications. Eric was also the Program Manager for all mechanical and electrical subsystems on the pilotless NASA X-33 space shuttle replacement technology demonstration.

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