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MIT-designed plane to use 70 % less fuel.

A 'green airplane' designed by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-led research team is likely to use 70 per cent less fuel than existing ones while slashing noise and emission of nitrogen oxides.

The design was one of two that the team, led by faculty from the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro), presented to the Nasa last month as part of a $2.1 million research contract.

MIT was the only university to lead one of the six US teams that won contracts from Nasa in October 2008. Ed Greitzer, professor of aeronautics and astronautics was the principal investigator of the project.

Known as "N+3" to denote three generations beyond today's commercial fleet, the programme is aimed at identifying key technologies, such as advanced airframe configurations and propulsion systems, that will enable greener airplanes to take flight around 2035.

Known as the Boundary Layer Ingestion (BLI), this technique allows the engines to use less fuel for the same amount of thrust, although the design has several practical drawbacks, such as creating more engine stress, said an MIT release.

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