Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


Self cleaning planes which can clean the bug guts, dirt and remove acummulated ice to reduce drag and improve efficiency of the airplane.



My concept proposes for self cleaning airplanes which can clean and remove the bug guts which stick to the airplane and undergo chemical changes to turn into a sticky glue which causes drag.

The airplane will have strategically placed water spraying ports throughout the body which will open during cleaning and water along with a cleaning solution is sprayed to remove the bug guts and dirt to reduce airplane drag.

The plane can be connected to high pressure water source connected to ground and through embedded small pipings and tubes the water will be sprayed through out the body cleaning the plane.This will consume very less water.

As per the feedback received by judges I suggest to use self cleaning system to remove bug guts, dirt and ice accumulation on plane surfaces.I have evaluated other solution like coating the plane with nano paint so that bug guts and dirt don't stick to the surface. Inspired by nano paint for cars in the automotive sector, it is good and it does the job if we spend out a few thousands of dollars but it has a problem Nano paint and radars don't work well together meaning,The long straws of pure carbon each just a few nanometres in diameter absorb a broad spectrum of light making the airplane invisible to radars good for fighter jets but terrible for commercial planes.I have also evaluated alternative materials as suggested by the esteem jury I found a super hydrophobic metal created by etching micro or nano patterns on the surface of the metals, the water bounces of the metals.


I was impressed with it initially but on my further analysis this micro and nano patterns in fact might end up causing air drag. Leaving me with only two options either to adopt my cheap self cleaning technology or adopt coating with anti icing coatings, the problems with anti icing coating is that it wears out with time and coating a plane again and again is very expensive. So I think my suggested approach will be the most reliable.


What actions do you propose?

  1. To incorporate self cleaning design into planes at manufacturer level.The plane can be connected to high pressure water source connected to ground and through embedded small pipings within the airplane body the water will be sprayed through out the body cleaning the plane. In this manner the water used also will be less and it will be a quick process to clean bug guts and dirt.

2.A quick clean of planes between multiple trips will save a lot of fuel as drag is a major factor that plays a crucial role in fuel efficiency.

3. Use this self clean technology for deicing the plane, warm water will be sprayed through these embedded jets and pores which will easily remove ice accumulated in planes instead of using tons of deicing chemicals that harm environment and spoil the ground water.

Who will take these actions?

  • Aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing will help incorporate this technology into the planes with the help of industry experts. Aeronautics and aeronautics department at MIT can also help to come up with break through innovations. The aeronautics lab at MIT can conduct research and feasibility study of the concept and pitch into Aeropspace agencies for further research and implementation, already NASA is searching for solution to bug guts drag issue and ice build up. Other space agencies like ISRO, JAXA, ESA etc.

Where will these actions be taken?

Around the globe there are aircraft manufacturing facilities, the primary research will happen in the research labs of the aircraft manufacturers, universities and aerospace labs of space agencies.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Reports indicate a total of 1% reduction in fuel costs for airplane, even though it looks like a low number it as actually big number.According to the the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics , airlines used 16.7 billion gallons of fuel in 2015. Cutting that by 1 percent, or 167 million gallons, would result in a savings of $308 million at average fuel prices last year.

What are other key benefits?


  1. Reduction in airplane drag due to bug guts and dirt.
  2. Improved performance and fuel efficiency due to removal of accumulated self cleaning technology.
  3. Water savings for environment, water required to wash a plane and the water required to clean a plane with my suggested approach is poles apart. Meaning with very less water effective cleaning is possible.
  4. No chemical deicing reduces mixing of de icing chemicals with ground water again good for environment.

What are the proposal’s costs?

  1. Anything related to an aircraft usually requires a large budget, at a scaled level it might cost around $50000 to develop and test it.
  2. Implementing cost in each aircraft varies with different planes, the final costs mainly depend on the how thi technology is incorporated into the existing planes. Since it involves mainly high pressure small tubes and sprayers for cleaning the approximate cost for a normal passenger aircraft will be $40000.

Time line

The proposal requires testing and research, since aircraft are very delicate and complicated machines it will take around 3 years.

Related proposals


  1. NASA's Bug Repellent Aims to Save Airlines Millions in Fuel Cost 
  2. Nano paint in automotive     
  3. Nano paint could makes airplanes invisible to radar 
  4. A computational study of the aerodynamic performance of a dragonfly wing section in gliding flight
  5. Multifunctional surfaces produced by femtosecond laser pulses,” was published in the Journal of Applied Physics on January 20, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4905616
  6. Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals
  7. De-Icing a Plane
  8. Surface Coatings andDrag Reduction
  9. Improving AirplaneEnvironmental Performance