A green sky
With the rise of all things green, clean and anything machine, it seems an appropriate time to think about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making aviation sustainable.
Tesla’s electric cars, Sony’s digital paper, and solar-powered bulbs are all fast becoming the norm, so will emission-free planes be part of our lives in the next few years?
The eco-friendly flight has been an idea circling in the sky for decades, but only recently has it begun to materialise.
A significant startup
Silicon Valley startup, ZeroAvia, has announced notable advancements in developing a hydrogen-fuelled electric powertrain. They claim their planes will be cheaper to manufacture and fly than standard jet fuel-powered planes. They also promise to produce none of the carbon emissions that give the aviation industry such an environmentally-unfriendly reputation.
With plans to supply their eco journey solution to commercial aircraft manufacturers by 2022, the Californian-based company are initially targeting small planes of 10-20 seats for short-haul flights, with up to 500 miles range. The Federal Aviation Administration permitted ZeroAvia to operate a prototype for test flights earlier this year.
Since then, a number of successful flight tests have been performed using the prototype in a Piper M-class airframe, which is currently the world’s largest zero-emission aircraft flying without any fossil fuel support.
Problems taking off
Flying requires enormous amounts of energy, and currently, batteries are way too heavy and expensive to even achieve liftoff. The same technology that enables Tesla to get 300 miles of range wouldn’t be enough to power more than a two-seater aircraft, with a flight range of only a few miles.
Thomson-Reuters estimates that if electric jets were successful, the market could reach $22 billion within 15 years. But engineering them will require a battery that can rival fossil fuels. The problem is that no one is able to manufacture a successful electric jet to date.
No one knows how the electric flight will evolve, but as electric innovation becomes more advanced, so does the potential for the zero-emission plane to truly take off.
What are your thoughts on zero-emission planes? Do you think it will happen by 2022? Let us know by tweeting us @hyve!