Çinar receives Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program Award

Research on air transportation emissions recognized by the Graham Sustainability Institute

Gokcin Cinar

Gökçin Çinar, Assistant Professor at U-M Aerospace, has just won a Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program Award from the U-M Graham Sustainability Institute for her research focusing on reducing net carbon emissions.

Her proposal titled “Reducing Air Transport Emissions Through Efficient Electrified Aircraft Operations” is one of seven projects that received funding from the U-M Graham Sustainability Institute under the Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program. The award provides funding for U-M faculty research that will dramatically reduce net carbon emissions, and this funding cycle $1.25 million has been dedicated to the cause. 

Çinar comments, “The CNAP award will help us kick off a new research area in my newly established Integrated Design of Environmentally-friendly Aerospace Systems (IDEAS) Laboratory. This funding will enable us to develop new operational analysis models to simulate the flight operations of the next generation hybrid electric aircraft fleets. These simulations will reveal at what conditions aircraft electrification is feasible and beneficial for short- and medium-haul aircraft routes. Since these routes dominate the commercial aviation market, knowing how their emissions can be reduced will have a great positive impact on accelerating carbon-neutrality within the commercial aviation sector.”

Çinar founded the IDEAS Lab to make an impact towards reaching aviation’s net zero emissions goals by bringing a holistic approach that accounts for the system-level impact of greenhouse gas emissions in the design and operation of novel aircraft concepts. Hybrid electric aircraft is a key technology that has the potential to reduce aviation’s harmful emissions. Compared to their conventional counterparts, hybrid electric aircraft can have substantially different configurations and sensitivities, and therefore should be operated differently. The IDEAS Lab has computational tools and capabilities to design and optimize the future hybrid electric aircraft concepts and propulsion architectures. 

This research is conducted in collaboration with Raytheon Technologies Research Center (RTRC), one of the industry research leaders in electrified aircraft. RTRC will take an advisory role to help identify real-world use-cases for our simulations. 

Sustainable Aviation is a the key area of research for Michigan Aerospace and is one of six strategic thrusts for research, innovation and collaboration in the department’s 10 year strategic vision. Çinar’s research is an integral component of this plan and Çinar believes recognition by the Graham Institute demonstrates the importance of this work.

Studies suggest that the aviation industry could account for 25% of global CO2 emissions by 2050, yet the electrification of aircraft poses many challenges. Current electric aircraft batteries weigh 50X more than the jet fuel required for the same energy, rendering such an aircraft unfeasible for commercial applications. However, hybrid-electric aircraft may stand a chance if we find a way to optimize aircraft design and flight operation simultaneously, for considering these aspects separately would have disastrous consequences.

Çinar’s objective is to build a new numerical capability for early stage analysis of hybrid electric aircraft operations for future commercial fleets. Her overarching research question is: “What is the relationship between the top-level aircraft and operations metrics and the CO2 emissions for hybrid electric aircraft in the 2030-2050 timeframe?”

The project aims to develop a novel computational framework for rapid and efficient modeling of hybrid electric aircraft missions for commercial fleet operations. This framework will be used to reveal the tradeoff between aircraft design, top-level operations metrics and the resulting aircraft CO2 emissions. Ultimately, the methods developed in this project will enable the co-optimization of electrified systems in conjunction with aircraft mission and fleet operations to minimize the CO2 emissions across the next generation of aircraft fleets.