The Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers competition was run as a pilot solicitation within the ERC program. Planning grants are not The Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers competition was run as a pilot solicitation within the ERC program. Planning grants are not required as part of the full ERC competition, but intended to build capacity among teams to plan for convergent, center-scale engineering research.
This project enables planning of a transdisciplinary research consortium for electric aircraft with broad community stakeholder involvement, to explore innovative next-generation aircraft concepts for vertical and short takeoff/landings. These new electric aircraft designs offer ultra-high efficiency, very low noise and zero-direct air pollution emissions; i.e., a green alternative over conventional aircraft and their supporting infrastructure. Electric aircraft can provide city planners with new options for mixed urban transportation systems. This consortium serves to conduct convergent, multidisciplinary research for electric aircraft, engage the public on their community benefits, educate students from all walks of life, train the next-generation workforce, and foster an innovation ecosystem based on green aerospace technologies.
Through next-generation electric aircraft concepts, this project develops a multidisciplinary strategy for protecting the environment and enabling increased transportation mobility that has significant advantages over conventional transportation systems. Through a series of workshops, the project develops a roadmap with experts from many disciplines and professions, including aeronautics, material science, acoustics, autonomous control, public policy, law, and the aerospace industry. Building upon the technology for coflow jet active flow control, the planning for the consortium addresses technical challenges for electric aircraft, including aircraft noise mitigation via reduced propeller disk loading, interactive virtual simulations of full electric aircraft systems, high-energy density batteries and high-power supercapacitors, lightweight high-heat conductivity materials, high-power density and efficient micro-compressor actuators, distributed propulsion, flight control, and safety systems.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.