The challenges for us all in flying green

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W5
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The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by W5 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50503721

Sustainable, renewable, green: the buzz words of the environmentalists figured large at this week's Dubai Air Show. At the last show two years ago, such things barely registered.

This time we've had airline Etihad rename a Boeing 787 Dreamliner a "greenliner" and Airbus unveiling an experiment in which aircraft follow each other to reduce drag and save fuel. It mimics bird flight.

No press conference seems complete without a reference to aviation efficiency, and the president of Emirates airline even praised activist Greta Thunberg for helping focus minds on what they had to do.

Trouble is, not only does aviation contribute 2% of global emissions, that figure is set to rise over the next few years. No wonder critics reject aviation's pledge to become sustainable as hollow.

So, have we seen "greenwash" in Dubai or a genuine commitment to change? What are airlines doing to help tackle the climate crisis? And can the industry really wean itself off fossil fuels?

The BBC's Talking Business programme went to the air show to speak to experts involved in aviation's attempt to clean up its act.

Aero-engines are at the heart of the issue, of course. While critics are quick to condemn the industry's rising emissions, things would be so much worse without advances in engine technology, says Phil Curnock, chief engineer, civil future programme at Rolls-Royce (RR).

"We have come a long way," he says. "Engines are some 50% more efficient than 30 years ago." That may be little consolation when airlines are still chucking more emissions into the atmosphere. But it is illustrative of the impact new technologies can make, he says.

For example, the firm's new UltraFan, set for commercial use in the next decade, is one of the biggest leaps in engine technology for 50 years. "And once you've got the latest gas turbine on your aircraft, the next thing to do is look at the fuel you're burning," he says.

Commercial airlines are forecast to use about 97bn gallons of jet fuel this year, a record. But, says Alejandro Rios Galvan, a bioenergy expert and professor at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, there is simply no alternative available in the short term.

He believes plant based bio-fuels currently offer the best option. "These have the capacity to reduce the carbon footprint anywhere between 50-80% when you compare them to fossil."

Bio-fuels are already being used in very small quantities. All flights from Los Angeles and Oslo, for example, carry a tiny bio-fuel mix. But there are many issues around price and production of this fuel.

A problem is that airlines operate on wafer thin profit margins. They are not going to adopt anything that increases their cost base, he says. But he adds: "The costs [of bio fuels] have come down significantly as more infrastructure is built to refine these products. It may only be a few years before they can compete on par basis with cost of fossil fuel."

One route is to get rid of fuels completely, or perhaps combine them in electric hybrid engines. It's not an option for huge long-haul airliners. But for smaller aircraft covering perhaps 1,000 miles "electrification is a really good opportunity," says Mr Churnock. "It offers the possibility of a carbon neutral flight for a limited range."

Airbus has been a leader in electric development. Sandra Bour Schaeffer, the European plane maker's head of demonstrators, said that every tonne of fuel saved means a saving of three tonnes of CO2 emissions. "So it is absolutely crucial that work is done on the electric engine side."

And the industry is getting close to real commercial breakthrough technology, Ms Bour Schaeffer said. In 2015, Airbus' E-Fan all-electrical aircraft crossed the English Channel on 60 kilowatts of power.

In 2021 the company's E-FanX hybrid electrical aircraft will use two megawatts. "It's a huge improvement," she said. "It's about learning and stretching the technology."

And yet, these developments are only medium to long-term solutions. Ms Bour Schaeffer doesn't foresee commercial electric aircraft flying until the mid-2030s. The aviation industry has committed to halving emissions by 2050. With air travel set to double over the next 20 years, that target looks a tall order.

But just because big breakthrough technologies are years away does not mean nothing can be done in the short term, the BBC's expert panel say.

There are multiple improvements being made: better aircraft aerodynamics, changes to ways aircraft taxi on runways, use of lighter materials, improvements to airspace use to allow more straight-line flying and reduce holding patterns.

An Airbus project called "Fello'fly" will experiment with aircraft flying behind each other. The idea is that the trailing aircraft flies in the updraft of the one in front, allowing it to reduce engine thrust. Sound fanciful? Ms Bour Schaeffer says this pairing of aircraft can save 5-10% in fuel.

Mr Curnock points to another easy win. If an aircraft descends into an airport at constant rate it can save about 150 kilograms of carbon. "These are really simple things that can be done through good air traffic control. They can have an impact in the short term while we are developing the bigger harder-hitting technology."

Such things don't necessarily make good headlines. But cumulatively they can make a difference. The issue for aviation, though, is whether it's enough in the short term to stave off taxation, regulation, protests and "flight shamers" until the industry can prove its long term solutions are working.
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Eric Janson
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by Eric Janson » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:15 am

Trouble is, not only does aviation contribute 2% of global emissions, that figure is set to rise over the next few years. No wonder critics reject aviation's pledge to become sustainable as hollow.
So how about paying attention to the other 98%? - especially China and India.

I see they use the term "Emissions" - Carbon (in the form of CO2) is not a pollutant.

Plants love CO2 - as the concentration increases plants thrive. CO2 is injected into greenhouses for this reason.

How do people think Oxygen is produced?
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by C-GGGQ » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:00 am

The article also doesn't understand math. "How do you cut emissions in half if your business is set to double?" By cutting it in half. It remains at 2% instead of climbing to 4% they've still reduced emissions 50%
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by iflyforpie » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:00 pm

Eric Janson wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:15 am
Trouble is, not only does aviation contribute 2% of global emissions, that figure is set to rise over the next few years. No wonder critics reject aviation's pledge to become sustainable as hollow.
So how about paying attention to the other 98%? - especially China and India.

I see they use the term "Emissions" - Carbon (in the form of CO2) is not a pollutant.

Plants love CO2 - as the concentration increases plants thrive. CO2 is injected into greenhouses for this reason.

How do people think Oxygen is produced?
Doesn’t quite work that way.

Increased CO2 will bring increased plant life and O2... but it will also bring increased temperatures as CO2 levels stabilize at a higher level... a level that will be good for some plants but not for others and good for some animals and not for others. More plants won’t bring CO2 back down (to a level that would not support them). Certain animal life would also thrive on the increased O2.. mostly in the form of insects and contribute to maintaining higher CO2 levels.

CO2 is also released by decaying plants unless it is locked away by a physical mechanism—like being buried under lava or sediment—which is what happened previously during a mass extinction after a period of much higher levels of CO2 and O2 and much more plant mass.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by Victory » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:25 pm

There's a lot they could do to cut emissions in aviation. Even just having ground crew ready to marshal you in instead of sitting there for 5 minutes every time you arrive in Pearson would save tons of carbon in the atmosphere. If ground power and air-conditioning was put on the aircraft as soon as it stopped we wouldn't even need to start the APU for every arrival. We should tow aircraft to deicing or deice them at the gate instead of sitting in a deice facility with the engines running. We should tow aircraft to and from the runway instead of taxiing with the engines. I liked that idea of electric motors in the wheel to taxi around with. Small potatoes compared to how much carbon we dump during a flight perhaps but small amounts over time add up. Better to start now than wait until things are so bad we are forced to change.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by C-GGGQ » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:44 am

We used to do gate sprays at Pearson. Then it was deemed to environmentally unfriendly. Thus the CDF and all its glycol capturing equipment.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by Daniel Cooper » Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:49 am

Interesting that KLM's latest advertising suggests that you ask yourself if you really need to fly or not. It's obviously virtue signalling as I'm sure they did the math and realized they could put out something like this and it wouldn't hurt their bottom line.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4htp2xxhto
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by goingnowherefast » Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:03 pm

Is there any real reason that planes couldn't be towed to and from the runway? Convenience, sure, and who wants to buy all those extra tugs?

I suppose you could go all the way and tow the GPU and air cart along with the plane. Run electrified tracks in the taxiway and use electric tugs, electric ground power and electric air carts.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by corethatthermal » Mon Nov 25, 2019 7:43 pm

Doesn’t quite work that way.

Increased CO2 will bring increased plant life and O2... but it will also bring increased temperatures as CO2 levels stabilize at a higher level... a level that will be good for some plants but not for others and good for some animals and not for others. More plants won’t bring CO2 back down (to a level that would not support them). Certain animal life would also thrive on the increased O2.. mostly in the form of insects and contribute to maintaining higher CO2 levels.

CO2 is also released by decaying plants unless it is locked away by a physical mechanism—like being buried under lava or sediment—which is what happened previously during a mass extinction after a period of much higher levels of CO2 and O2 and much more plant mass.
Along the same lines as cow farts ?
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by corethatthermal » Mon Nov 25, 2019 7:45 pm

Regenerative braking , take the energy of braking and put it into taxiing to the terminal ! The fact this is not implemented just shows that its all smoke and mirrors folks !!!
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by jakeandelwood » Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:30 pm

goingnowherefast wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 5:03 pm
Is there any real reason that planes couldn't be towed to and from the runway? Convenience, sure, and who wants to buy all those extra tugs?

I suppose you could go all the way and tow the GPU and air cart along with the plane. Run electrified tracks in the taxiway and use electric tugs, electric ground power and electric air carts.
I've always wondered why large planes aren't towed to the runway. But all our efforts today will just be cancelled out by our uncontrollable population tomorow creating many more energy consuming humans therefore needing many more planes in the air.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by valleyboy » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:58 am

Regenerative braking , take the energy of braking and put it into taxiing to the terminal ! The fact this is not implemented just shows that its all smoke and mirrors folks !!!
They claim pollution from that as well and that is why what they call zero emissions doesn't really exist. Two hard surfaces rubbing creates byproducts. In my mind to cut down on aircraft pollution is to keep them on the ground. Short haul commuter should be moving towards ultra high speed ground transport. We would not need as many international airports and of course increase the cost per ticket.. Not a carbon tax but a real significant price hike. Yup low cost carries gone and people actually planning special trips and elimination of get away holidays. Tourism pollutes and destroys local sites of interest and history. No one likes a tourist they just want to bleed them at the expense of the dwindling pristine places left in the world.
I've always wondered why large planes aren't towed to the runway. But all our efforts today will just be
It's all about money. Look at the controversy over flame retardant on seats and upholstery and the fight to spend a few dollars on safety. Airlines will not be happy to add cost by paying for that technology. Like everything else the world is driven by money and it has trumped everything up until now.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by AirFrame » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:28 am

valleyboy wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:58 am
Two hard surfaces rubbing creates byproducts.
Regenerative Braking isn't two hard surfaces rubbing. It's a coil moving through a magnetic field to generate electricity.

The bigger problem with the "greenifying" of aviation is that there isn't an economical way to do anything for light GA aircraft. The Cessnas, Pipers, and Amateur-Builts powered by Continentals and Lycomings that we fly today are going to be a prime target for environmentalists once cars have passed the tipping point. This article is great at pointing out how much more efficient turbine engines have become in the last 50 years. Unfortunately at the same time, my Lycoming is identical to the one produced 50 years ago. I'd have to check, but it may actually be 50 years old. But one built today isn't really any different, it's just a lot more expensive and might have electronic ignition.

Our small aircraft are the ones buzzing around cities, and will become an increasingly large target as time goes on. I still think I may live to see the day where i'm forced to stop flying for non-medical reasons.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by CpnCrunch » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:09 pm

AirFrame wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:28 am
The bigger problem with the "greenifying" of aviation is that there isn't an economical way to do anything for light GA aircraft. The Cessnas, Pipers, and Amateur-Builts powered by Continentals and Lycomings that we fly today are going to be a prime target for environmentalists once cars have passed the tipping point. This article is great at pointing out how much more efficient turbine engines have become in the last 50 years. Unfortunately at the same time, my Lycoming is identical to the one produced 50 years ago. I'd have to check, but it may actually be 50 years old. But one built today isn't really any different, it's just a lot more expensive and might have electronic ignition.
The eFlyer 4 is an interesting concept:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bye_Aerospace_eFlyer_4

And seems to be about the same price as a new 172 (which, admittedly, is also ridiculously uneconomic).
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by jakeandelwood » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:23 pm

AirFrame wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:28 am
valleyboy wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:58 am
Two hard surfaces rubbing creates byproducts.
Regenerative Braking isn't two hard surfaces rubbing. It's a coil moving through a magnetic field to generate electricity.

The bigger problem with the "greenifying" of aviation is that there isn't an economical way to do anything for light GA aircraft. The Cessnas, Pipers, and Amateur-Builts powered by Continentals and Lycomings that we fly today are going to be a prime target for environmentalists once cars have passed the tipping point. This article is great at pointing out how much more efficient turbine engines have become in the last 50 years. Unfortunately at the same time, my Lycoming is identical to the one produced 50 years ago. I'd have to check, but it may actually be 50 years old. But one built today isn't really any different, it's just a lot more expensive and might have electronic ignition.

Our small aircraft are the ones buzzing around cities, and will become an increasingly large target as time goes on. I still think I may live to see the day where i'm forced to stop flying for non-medical reasons.
Your whole "carbon footprint" needs to be in the equation, so some single person who rides his bike to work everyday and flies his Cessna 150 for a couple hours on a sunny Sunday gets shamed by these "Greta green freaks" for doing so? Meanwhile some human breeder with 5 kids living in a mcMansion gets praised because they heat it with a heat pump?
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by AirFrame » Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:43 am

jakeandelwood wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:23 pm
Your whole "carbon footprint" needs to be in the equation, so some single person who rides his bike to work everyday and flies his Cessna 150 for a couple hours on a sunny Sunday gets shamed by these "Greta green freaks" for doing so? Meanwhile some human breeder with 5 kids living in a mcMansion gets praised because they heat it with a heat pump?
And don't forget it. At least they're "doing something" to minimize the impact of their unending supply of crotch goblins. All we do is keep flying the same polluting Lycomings that have been around since the second world war.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by jakeandelwood » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:11 pm

AirFrame wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:43 am
jakeandelwood wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:23 pm
Your whole "carbon footprint" needs to be in the equation, so some single person who rides his bike to work everyday and flies his Cessna 150 for a couple hours on a sunny Sunday gets shamed by these "Greta green freaks" for doing so? Meanwhile some human breeder with 5 kids living in a mcMansion gets praised because they heat it with a heat pump?
And don't forget it. At least they're "doing something" to minimize the impact of their unending supply of crotch goblins. All we do is keep flying the same polluting Lycomings that have been around since the second world war.
"Crotch goblins" :lol:
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by DadoBlade » Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:37 pm

End of fossil fuels? According to what source you seek, an "average" automobile tire, (size not specified,) requires approximately 7 U.S. gallons of oil to be produced. If it weren't for taxiing and landing, we just might meet the Paris Accord goals.
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Re: The challenges for us all in flying green

Post by anofly » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:09 pm

every cell phone uses about the same amount of electricity as a refrigerator... ,places that dont have fridges have cell phones...
we need to save carbon for transportation and electrify every thing else we can with "clean electricity" nuclear, renewables, and hydro"
we need to heat houses with heat pumps, but only if the electricity is clean. Cars (read ground transportation) too, if the electricity is clean.
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