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NASA Glenn develops a hybrid jet engine
Hybrid engine technology will save fuel and reduce emissions

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NASA Glenn is working on a project to incorporate hybrid-engine technology normally used in cars and into large passenger jets. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Brian Bull reports there will be a significant delay before takeoff.

LISTEN: Brian Bull on NASA's hybrid engine

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Picture a 737 jet airliner with electric engines and a fan on the tail end, and you’ll have a basic concept of what NASA’s Cleveland facility is trying to accomplish.  

Ralph Jansen is an engineer on the hybrid-gas electric project. He says the goal is to reduce the amount of fuel, emissions and noise from jet planes with the same design and engineering elements found in cars like Toyota’s Prius. 

“So here at NASA," says Jansen, "we’re taking this technology and doing it for airplanes -- which is particularly difficult because you need to make the electric parts very light and very efficient. We’re looking 20 to 30 years out to really get to full 737 aircraft size.”  

Which means new materials and alloys to help make sturdier but lighter aircraft. 

Jansen and other researchers add that there’s competition from overseas. NASA Glenn Engineer Cheryl Bowman says the European Union is investing heavily in hybrid aircraft technology. 

“It is a global interest," says Bowman, "there are conferences in Europe on a routine basis, focusing on electrification of vehicles.”  

Bowman says the EU is investing in companies like Rolls-Royce in Great Britain and AirBus in France, to develop their hybrid aircraft.


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