(Image courtesy of Nick Barclay)
NASA recognizes Earlhamite’s vision for advanced propulsion system in futuristic aircraft
October 04, 2017
Giorgi Mtchedlishvili ’18 and other students from Columbia University’s Space Initiative recently placed first in the NASA Aeronautics Challenge for its design of a futuristic aircraft called Gryphon.
His 12-member team spent nine months designing a next-generation commercial transport plane that met or exceeded the contest’s goals of reduction in noise, emissions and fuel consumption in the Low Noise Subsonic Challenge.
“Gryphon is a blended wing body aircraft utilizing turboelectric distributed propulsion,” says Mtchedlishvili, who completed a pre-engineering major and minors in Physics and Math at Earlham before enrolling at Columbia.
The plane incorporates advanced technologies in airframe, aerodynamics and propulsion, he says. The blended wing concept adds lift and reduces drag while the turboelectric distributed propulsion maximizes thrust.
“I was on the propulsion team, and I worked to optimize the combustion chamber,” he says.
NASA predicts that the air transportation industry will continue to expand by an average of two to three percent per year over the next couple of decades, potentially increasing aviation’s impact on the environment. Graduate–level entries in the competition were asked to design a large, commercial air transport vehicle for 200 or more passengers that can enter service in 2025 to 2035.
Mtchedlishvili, an Operations Research major at Columbia, hopes to see aspects of the Gryphon design implemented in future aircraft. He was excited to be invited to be part of the Gryphon team.
“I was more than happy to do so because I realized that we had a chance, small but theoretically possible, to make a difference in the future aeronautics industry,” he says. “Columbia participated in this challenge for the first time, and we are so happy that our pure enthusiasm paid off.”
As part of his contributions to the team, Mtchedlishvili suggested that the team implement novel axially controlled stoichiometry (ACS) combustor into the plane’s propulsion system. This technology features concepts such as lean burn, pilot and main stage injectors for different power configurations, radially staged swirlers, ACS and CMCs (lightweight Ceramic Matrix Composites).
“This concept allowed us to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent and satisfy one of NASA’s major requirements,” he says.
In addition, Mtchedlishvili is co-founder of Smart Agribusiness Consulting Group, a venture he hopes to spend more time developing.
“We aim to develop Georgian agribusiness industry by providing consulting and financial services to everyone who wants to utilize the unprecedented opportunities that exist in the region,” he says. “Georgia is traditionally an agricultural country, which has 22 micro-climates varying from cool and dry to warm and humid. These diversified micro-climates allow for a longer than normal harvesting season and a wide range of growing conditions.”
Mtchedlishvili says Earlham is a “truly unique place.”
“It gave me everything that I need to succeed not only at Columbia but also in my life,” he says. “Earlham is an academically challenging institution, but it is certainly a very strong, established family that takes care of each student.”
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success.
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.