In the UK, British airline easyJet is implementing a zero emissions hydrogen fuel system, which has the potential to save an estimated 50,000 tonnes of fuel and reduce associated CO2 emissions per year.
One of Europe’s busiest airlines has set a new target for 2020, in attempts to reduce its emissions by 7% – This is compared to its current emissions, which equate to 81.05 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometre, following a decrease of 28% over the last 15-years, the airline said in a company statement.
The airline claims that with its new technology and efficient operation, its passengers’ have a carbon footprint that is 22% less than that of a passenger travelling on a different airline – flying the same type of aircraft on the same route.
Head of engineering at easyJet, Ian Davies, commented: “At easyJet, we are continuing to apply the use of new digital and engineering technologies across the airline.
“The hybrid plane concept we are announcing today is both a vision of the future and a challenge to our partners and suppliers to continue to push the boundaries towards reducing our carbon emissions.”
Hybrid for the win
[quote]The hydrogen fuel system concept was born out of the Cranfield University in the UK, where students were asked to create a concept of what air travel might look like in twenty years’ time. This was part of a competition to celebrate the airline’s 20th birthday in November, 2015.
The students were given four categories in which to design a concept: cabin design, aircraft design, airport experience and in-flight experience.
Dr Craig Lawson, Lecturer, Centre for Aeronautics, Cranfield University, said: “We are delighted to be working on this project with easyJet on what is a real-world example of how we can innovate together. Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university providing advanced, practical education and research. We are recognised internationally as meeting the needs of business, governments and wider society.
“Our students have showcased some exciting ideas for the 2035 vision of the airline industry through The Future of Flight competition, presenting environmental solutions, operational improvements and ideas to enhance the customer experience. We’re looking forward to developing this concept further.”
Why fly first class when you can fly hybrid
Engineer Ian Davies and his team, have integrated elements of the students’ as well as their own “conceptual thinking” into a tangible system with a trial scheduled to take place later this year, the company said in a statement.
The airline explains: “The hybrid plane concept utilises a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft’s hold. This innovative zero-emissions system allows energy to be captured as the aircraft brakes on landing and is used to charge the system’s lightweight batteries when the aircraft is on the ground (much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) found in Formula 1 cars).
“The energy can then be used by the aircraft – for example when taxiing – without needing to use their jet engines. Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet’s operations, around 4% of the airline’s total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline’s aircraft are taxiing.
“easyJet’s aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of around four million miles a year – akin to travelling to the moon and back eight times.”
easyJet added: “Each aircraft would have motors in their main wheels and electronics and system controllers would give pilots total control of the aircraft’s speed, direction and braking during taxi operations. The system would therefore reduce, if not remove altogether, the need for tugs to manoeuvre aircraft in and out of stands, delivering more efficient turnaround times and increased on time performance.”
According to the airline, the only waste product is fresh clean water, which could be used to refill the aircraft’s water system throughout the flight.
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