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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bug Off: NASA ecoDemonstrator to Test Anti-Insect Coatings

Juliet Van Wagenen

NASA and Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator
NASA and Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator. Photo: NASA

[Avionics Today 04-28-2015] Over the next two weeks NASA will test non-stick wing coatings on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator designed to minimize insect residue and help reduce aircraft fuel consumption. During 15 planned flights in Shreveport, La. through May 15, NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project will assess how well five different coatings prevent insect remains from sticking to the leading edge of the 757's right wing.

The team will establish a bug baseline by using uncoated surfaces to capture insect accumulation rates. Then they will fly untreated control surfaces along with engineered surface samples of the five coatings being tested. NASA's goals are not only to determine which coating is most effective in decreasing the amount of bug residue, but also to provide data that will allow engineers to measure how reducing the size and specific locations of bug strikes affect laminar flow and help improve fuel efficiency.

Studies have shown that keeping the flow smooth, or laminar, over a wing can reduce fuel consumption as much as 6 percent. Even something as small as a bug on a leading edge can cause turbulent wedges that interrupt laminar flow, resulting in an increase in drag and fuel use.

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