Five Indian students, from four different time zones, have entered the finals of ‘Fly Your Ideas’ – a global competition floated by Airbus.
Their idea: An airplane that generates its own power from the vibration of its wings.
The five students – Sathiskumar Anusuya Ponnusami, Dhamotharan Veerasamy, Shashank Agrawal, Ajith Moses and Mohit Gupta – are studying in Bangalore, Netherlands, US and London but came together to work on this groundbreaking idea that can revolutionize the entire aviation industry.
Their idea explained:
A composite skin will be wrapped around the wings of an airplane that will store the energy from natural vibrations or flex in the wings. That energy can then be used to power inflight operations such as lighting and entertainment. Energy thus generated might also replace the power source used in ground operations.
This composite skin is made of piezoelectric fibres. (English, please!) Okay, piezoelectric materials have been used to convert mechanical into electrical energy through their inherent piezoelectric effect. The word ‘piezoelectricity’ means electricity resulting from pressure.
To make it even simpler for you, piezoelectricity is the ignition source for cigarette lighters, push-start propane barbecues, and quartz watches.
This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations.
“Also we convert the body of the aircraft into a gigantic battery. On an average the plane needs to fly for about 12 hours to have enough energy. So the idea will cater to long haul flights. At present, for taxing, the airplane keeps both its main engines running which is a total waste. Instead the plane can use the energy it saved up through the vibration during flight time,” Ponnusami told TOI.
The winner of the competition will be announced on May 27 at Hamburg, Germany. They will receive 30,000 euros as prize money.