The future of aviation: electric airplanes will decarbonise the aviation industry
28 January 2020 | Mitigation
Electric airplanes are set to decarbonise the aviation industry, making the environment greener – but when can we expect to see full-electric airplanes in the sky, asks Susan Fourtané.
The global aviation industry produces about 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transport sources, compared to 74% from road transport, according to the US Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
In 2018, flights produced 895 million tonnes of CO2, worldwide. Globally, humans produced more than 42 billion tonnes of CO2.
Aviation has brought great benefits to humanity; it has connected people and businesses across the world contributing to globalisation and the expansion of international commerce.
More recently, aviation and low-cost travel have opened the world to thousands of remote workers and location-independent individuals – also known as digital nomads – who enjoy the marvels of travelling the world at a low-cost while delivering their work digitally.
However, recent discussions on the implications of climate change and how carbon emissions are affecting the environment have prompted more initiatives focused on reducing carbon emissions. One of those initiatives involves decarbonising the aviation industry.
There has been a significant improvement from the fuel consumed by jets in the 1960s to the present day. Jet aircraft today are more than 80% more fuel-efficient per seat kilometre than the first jets in the 1960s, according to the Air Transport Action Group.
In the same way, urban mobility has experienced an evolution towards vehicle electrification, we will soon start to see the transformation of the aviation industry into the development of large electric air vehicles that will be cruising the skies in just a few years’ time.
One of the most significant initiatives for electric air vehicles that has been initiated by a world-class higher education institution is the Cambridge Zero, which combines a full range of research and policy expertise in order to help create a zero-carbon future.
Cambridge Zero: an initiative from Cambridge University
The University of Cambridge has launched an ambitious new environment and climate change initiative with the goal of scaling the process of turning ideas into new technologies in the aviation and power industries.
This could result, for starters, in covering about 80% of the United Kingdom’s future aerodynamics technology needs.
Cambridge Zero is not just about developing greener technologies but combining the university’s top-class research and policy expertise in favour of developing actionable solutions that work for the citizens’ lives, society, and the biosphere as a whole.
Source: Engineers Journal