Science Sunday (on a Monday): Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator

Rocket Science Scale: 5 – Actual Rocket Science

For my Senior Design Project at U of I, the project was to design a small business aircraft that would sell for somewhere between 5-7 million dollars and meet a bunch of design requirements. My group (Team Aerohead) designed the Nock 2.


I was the “propulsion” engineer on the team, and I put the propulsion in quotes because I really just chose an engine and made sure it worked with the design requirements. Another part of my work was to do some trade studies that had to deal with the engine. So the easy one was “What engine did you chose for the aircraft?” and was basically the sum of all the research I did.


The other trade study I did was on biofuels. I looked into which ones were available, pretended they were economically feasible, and then tried to determine which one would be the best for the Nock 2. The one thing that I learned from the study was that biofuels are expensive and not as readily available as traditional jet fuel. Even though the impact can would be better for the environment, it seemed the technology is not quite ready for commercial use.

So it makes me happy to see that Boeing is trying to make it affordable and available.

Boeing currently has a 787 flying around called the ecoDemonstrator. The 787 ecoDemonstrator has two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines and one of them is flying using fuel that has 85% jet fuel and 15% green diesel. The green diesel is made up of vegetable oils, waste cooking oil and animal fats and is supposed to run similarly to a previously passed aviation biofuel.


Apparently, the aircraft is flying the exactly the same as it does with normal jet fuel. So, it seems that the test flight is a success! (Rolls-Royce and Boeing will probably have to triple check the data to make sure nothing went wrong). Even though the current production of biofuel currently only accounts for about 1% of global jet fuel use, I think this as a great start to using biofuels commercially.

But fun fact: The ecoDemonstrator doesn’t just use fancy new biofuel. It also set up to run with many near, mid and long-term technologies for future aircraft. For example some technologies it has a new ice phobic wing coatings (to reduce ice on wing), additional instrumentation to measure real time turbulence, and a NASA technology (ASTAR) which is meant to improve landing efficiencies. There are more beyond that but I won’t keep rambling on.


I will say the ecoDemonstrator is not new to Boeing. It previously was a 737-800 and they are going to be using a different aircraft in a new year (a 757). But I rarely hear about it in the news and think the program deserves a little love. It’s great to think that they are thinking beyond their current 787 program, even though that is considered one of the latest and greatest aircrafts.

Even if there were some battery fires, the composites in this thing are fierce.

Even if there were some battery fires….

That’s all I really wanted to say. Sorry that the post was a day late but sometimes life gets in the way. Which is why there was also one cooking post last week. (Whoops). As Christmas gets closer, I’ll probably post a little less (probably just one cooking post a week). But I’ll try and make sure to be more timely with my Science Sunday Posts.

Because science is important. Have a great Monday!

Here's another picture of the Nock 2. It really is my favorite fake aircraft.

Here’s another picture of the Nock 2. It really is my favorite fake aircraft.


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