Help NASA keep skies pure blue with your brilliant idea for eliminating harmful emissions from air travel. Will you help protect our skies?
This challenge is open to anyone age 18 or older, participating as an individual or as a team. Team captains must be a United States citizen , legal permanent resident, or asylum grantee. Further team members may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation. See the Official Challenge Rules at the end of this page for more eligibility information.
If you wish to participate in this challenge but are not a United States citizen or legal permanent resident, we suggest that you take advantage of our website’s team-building features in order to collaborate with a team captain who is from the USA.
Welcome, passionate innovators and bold visionaries, to an extraordinary quest to redefine the future of aviation, to bring forth a world where the skies are clear, and the flights are green. The challenge at hand is not just a call to reimagine aircraft but an invitation to unleash your creativity in scripting an environmentally-conscious success story for the ages.
Picture this – the year is 2050. A dark, smoky haze shrouds the flightline, casting a shadow of uncertainty on the future of our planet. The world watches as aircraft crisscross the skies, leaving trails of emissions in their wake, fueling a looming climate crisis. Yet, amid this grim reality, a new hope emerges: YOU! We are asking for your brilliant minds to come together and transform the aviation industry, wielding innovative technologies that save the planet from the grips of an environmental catastrophe. The skies are your canvas, and the spotlight is on you.
NASA beckons you to take center stage in this thrilling saga. We are seeking novel, revolutionary ideas that directly address the harmful emissions produced by narrow and wide-body aircraft during flights that last longer than two hours. Ideas that boldly break away from conventional thinking and take aviation to a future where aircraft are benign to the environment. These are the ideas the world needs! If someone has published a scientific paper, or there is chatter about a crazy idea on Quora, NASA probably knows something about it. We are looking for something substantially novel! NASA’s charter is to seek extraordinary solutions to extraordinary problems; to look out into the impossible for something possible. Near-term net zero carbon dioxide solutions are in the works. But will these solutions succeed? Is net zero CO2 enough? Can we do better?
We are focused on eliminating or mitigating the harmful effects of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx), nvPM (non-volatile particulate matter / soot), water, and other emissions. While Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) holds promise, we are looking for something beyond SAF – unique, sustainable solutions that minimize emissions at their source. Ideas that do not merely offset emissions but rather redefine the way aircraft operate, embracing green technology and out-of-the-box thinking, are of immense value. Nothing is too bold or crazy if it can help solve this wicked problem we’re facing. Remember though, your ideas cannot add some new harmful emission or be unsafe for widespread use.
They also need to be novel. If your idea involves concepts like lithium-Ion batteries, liquid hydrogen, cracked ammonia turbines, or fuel cells you may not win as there is active research on these fuels and sources in aviation.
We are looking for breakthrough ideas like these industry disruptors:
- The turbofan engine revolutionized aviation, blending power with remarkable efficiency. By harnessing a mix of jet thrust and ducted fan propulsion, turbofans drastically slashed fuel consumption by up to 25% compared to their turbojet predecessors. This not only led to more cost-effective long-haul flights but also resulted in a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. In an industry where efficiency and sustainability are paramount, the turbofan’s emergence was a game-changing leap toward a cleaner, more economical future in the skies.
- Fast forward to today. In just eight months, Whisper Aero designed, built, and flew a custom demonstrator drone with its unique electric propulsor, validating the company’s ultra-quiet, efficient electric jet technologies. Or take Astron Aerospace’s engine, the Omega 1, which combines parts of both a regular combustion engine and a turbine design, with hints of rotary interspersed. The company claims that hydrogen can be used as an ideal fuel for the engine, with emissions “close to zero.” Is your breakthrough idea ready to join these?
- Let’s not forget about process! The National Airspace System (NAS) is the unsung hero of modern aviation. By meticulously orchestrating the intricate dance of thousands of flights daily, the NAS ensures safety while optimizing routes for maximum efficiency. Its establishment streamlined operations, slashed flight times, and mitigated air traffic congestion, paving the way for a more fuel-efficient and environmentally conscious aviation era. In the vast skyways above, the NAS silently operates as the backbone of contemporary air travel, embodying a blend of precision, safety, and eco-friendly foresight. Do you have a machine learning solution that could further enhance the NAS process marvel? Perhaps this could form a part of your solution!
OK amazing solvers, channel your inner Lawrence Sperry! In 1927 he invented the artificial horizon, enabling none other than the great Jimmy Doolittle to take the first “blind flight!”
Submit your white papers outlining your groundbreaking ideas and detailed demonstration plans. Note that you will not be asked to develop your ideas alone! Challenge winners may have the chance to partner with NASA and a US-based academic institution to develop their ideas further.
Join us in crafting this unforgettable story, where you play the hero in keeping our skies pure and blue forever. Together, let’s turn this film noir into a tale of hope, innovation, and a cleaner, greener future for aviation. Your role awaits. Seize the moment, and change the world.