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Lehigh students create an aircraft that doesn't need fuel

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 11 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 12 2013 05:42:18 PM CDT

No fuel? That's not a problem for Lehigh University engineering students who are building a state-of-the-art glider.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

No fuel? That's not a problem for Lehigh University engineering students who are building a state-of-the-art glider.

In fact, it's so sophisticated, it may never need to land.

The glider doesn't look like much now but soon it will be able to fly for long periods of time.

“We go into the jet stream and out of it," said Joachim Grenested, professor of mechanical engineering, at Lehigh University. "And in again and out again. That way we kind of extract energy for propulsion of the aircraft.”

By using the wind and a scientific term called dynamic soaring.

The glider can stay in the air as long as the wind keeps blowing.

"If the wind were blowing forever it could stay up there forever," added Grenested. "That's the idea.”

The wing alone is 21 feet long and made of carbon fiber.

They hope to put the glider in flight later this year.

"I think a project like this is the best thing you could ever have for a young engineer,” said Grenested.

This is not the first time Lehigh mechanical engineering professor, Joachim Grenestedt has helped students create one of a kind projects.

In 2011, the university made a 29 foot speed boat made of hybrid material.

Back in 2009, Grenestedt, broke the United States land speed record by going over 133 miles per hour on a streamlined motorcycle in the Utah desert.

Once in the air the glider will reach speeds of 200 miles per hour.

“That's our biggest challenge right now. To get permission to fly up in the air space.”

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

For now, the glider will be used to monitor weather as an unmanned aircraft.

Grenestedt and the students say the sky's the limit when it comes to the possibilities of fuel less flight.