NASA hopes to cut back airline fuel emissions with a bug-repellant coating

Bugs splattered across the surface of a commercial jet might seem pretty insignificant, but NASA researchers say they can decrease fuel efficiency by as much as six percent. When those dead bugs collect on aerodynamically-sensitive elements like the leading edge of wings, they disturb the airflow over the surface. That causes turbulent air and drag — which ultimately reduces efficiency. So NASA’s testing five different nonstick coatings on Boeing’s “ecoDemonstrator” 757 aircraft over a number of 15 different flights at a particularly buggy airport, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. Researchers will not only test to see how many fewer bugs stick to the surface, but also whether the coatings can withstand the rigors of commercial aviation.

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