The following is excerpted from an aricle in The Varsity, the University of Toronto’s student newspaper. The entire article can be read by clicking on this sentence.
TORONTO – The design of an innovative aircraft brake by Nikola Kostic, a recent mechanical engineering alum from the University of Toronto, has been selected as one of the top 20 finalists for the James Dyson Award (JDA).
The prestigious annual international engineering design award has been promoted in engineering design courses at U of T. It rewards a cash prize of $50,000, and the finalists’ designs are reviewed by the renowned innovator James Dyson himself.
The Aeroflux contactless brake, Kostic’s design, previously won first place at Hatchery’s demo day where its team of Kostic, together with Stevan Kostic and Roshan Varghese, received initial funding to develop their idea as a result.
How Aeroflux works
Aeroflux stops a moving object without using moving parts that may wear out.
“If you think about it, you are stopping a multi-ton aircraft without touching it. That’s really what I find fascinating about it, and what other people find interesting as well,” Kostic explained in an interview with The Varsity.
Replacing conventional brakes is a time-consuming and expensive process. Kostic’s design, however, eliminates the need for frequent brake replacements and is therefore a more sustainable solution for short-haul aircrafts. This could potentially save millions of dollars in operating costs.
The technical term for the concept used by Aeroflux is called “eddy current braking.”
It avoids wearing out mechanical parts by applying a magnetic field, which induces electric currents in the surface of a highly conductive rotor. The eddy currents then produce their own magnetic field, which opposes the stationary magnetic field that created them. This creates a braking torque on the rotor.
Kostic’s design stood out among the JDA candidates since it is an excellent example of how engineering can make an industry more sustainable, and shows commitment toward achieving the ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emissions in aviation.
“I think that now we are really just starting to see the very beginning of these solutions, which are a complete blend of engineering [and] economics, but also sustainability,” said Kostic.