(Left) SUGAR high/freeze (Right) supersonic Boeing concept (via Boeing)
"Green" is becoming the norm in new design. Boeing is jumping on the bandwagon and looking to win a major contract from NASA to create new subsonic/supersonic aircraft that will be more environmentally friendly. Concepts for the subsonic aircraft (noted as N+3 for the next three generations of aircraft) are all derived from the project known as SUGAR (Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research). These include "SUGAR free" and "refined SUGAR" (I’m not making this up these puns) that resembles current 737 designs. SUGAR high and the electric/gas hybrid SUGAR Volt are more of a futuristic design and SUGAR ray (a design that looks like a B2 stealth converted for passengers) bringing up the rear. Finally, the SUGAR freeze (based on the SUGAR high) runs on cryogenically frozen liquid natural gas, making it 64% more efficient than current Boeing 737-800 planes.
All planes in this category have been designed to decrease CO2 emissions in one way or another; however the SUGAR Volt stands out from the pack because of its battery/fuel hybrid engines which reduce its energy burn by 55% over the other designs.
(Left) refined SUGAR (Middle) SUGAR ray (Right) SUGAR high (concepts via Boeing)
The supersonic designs are just as diverse as their slower moving brothers that include a swing-wing configuration, a fixed-wing design that uses a ‘v-tail’ concept (called Icon 2) and a joined-wing ‘scissor’ (1 wing joined at the fuselage that rotates on a pivot point) concept. All the supersonic crafts are designed to lessen or reduce the inevitable sonic boom created with super-fast flight. Yes, Boeing understands that while the supersonic models aren’t exactly up-to-speed (as it were) on the whole green initiative, they more than make up for it in raw speed alone. Conceptual designs were also submitted by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to NASA as well, all in the hopes of winning a contract. If all goes according to plan, the first group of next generation planes will hit the runway in 2030.