May 18th, 2015
LONDON: A team of Indian students, spread across three continents, have jointly created the world’s first airplane that generates its own power by the vibration of its wings. The five students – Sathiskumar Anusuya Ponnusami, Dhamotharan Veerasamy, Shashank Agrawal, Ajith Moses and Mohit Gupta – are studying in Bangalore, Netherlands, US and London but came together to work on this groundbreaking idea that can revolutionize the entire aviation industry.
The path breaking idea has made its way to the finals of a global competition floated by aviation industry giant Airbus. To take part in the competition, 518 multi-disciplinary teams representing 3,700 students from 104 countries submitted projects in December 2014.
The winners of “Fly Your Ideas” competition, which will be held in Germany, will be announced on May 27 and they will win a 30,000 euro jackpot.
The team which includes students presently studying in Bangalore, Netherlands, US and London envisages a future when the aircraft wings can be dressed in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations or flex in the wings.
Team leader Sathiskumar Anusuya Ponnusami from Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) told TOI, “There is a natural vibration that exists in every aircraft when it flies during which energy is generated. At present this energy goes wasted. We intend to harvest this energy, which will be sufficient enough to power in-flight operations like lighting and on board entertainment.”
The team uses piezoelectric fibres which gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight, storing the energy generated in battery panels.
Ponnusami calls his team “Multifun” because of the varied factors that bring the team and their idea together. “Though we are from India, we speak different languages. Our idea is also about a multi-functional mmaterial” Ponnusami said. They all met while studying at Indian Institute of Science’s NM Cad Lab of the aerospace engineering department. They have been working on the project for the past half year.