#Sustainability20: Delta Air Lines Helps Establish 1st Large-Scale SAF Hub In The US & Other Stories In Aviation
Weekly Roundup - 01/09/23
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
After seven years, Boom Supersonic's XB-1 prototype is nearing its first test flight. The XB-1 aims to demonstrate tech for the Overture, a commercial supersonic jet set for 2029. Despite challenges and past delays, Boom has received orders from major airlines and aims to revolutionise trans-oceanic travel, cutting flight durations significantly.
U.S. aviation groups express safety concerns over electric air taxis, highlighting potential issues like strained power grids and aircraft battery standards. The FAA is formulating its oversight approach as part of an "AAM National Strategy."
While many companies like Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation are pushing for electric air travel, unions and lobby groups urge caution and thorough safety evaluations, especially regarding fully autonomous aircraft. Airports also highlight the challenges of supporting electric infrastructure.
The 2023 Dubai Airshow will emphasise sustainability in the aviation sector, coinciding with the COP28 climate conference in Dubai. The industry aims for net zero emissions, with increasing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production essential to these targets.
Companies like Airbus and Boeing are promoting green technologies, and Honeywell introduced UOP eFining™, producing low-carbon aviation fuel. The event will feature a sustainability conference, discussing future sustainability challenges and innovations in aviation.
The First Movers Coalition, which includes Airbus, Breakthrough Energy, JetBlue Ventures, Qantas and World Energy, has launched the Sustainable Aviation Challenge, seeking innovative solutions for aviation decarbonisation.
The call for applications is open until October 2, 2023, welcoming solutions beyond fuel alternatives, such as hydrogen and batteries, innovations in feedstock, engineering and physical and market infrastructure. The initiative is hosted on UpLink by the World Economic Forum. Top innovators will gain visibility and networking opportunities.
Despite rising living costs, 80% of travellers will pay more for sustainable options, per Euromonitor's 2023 Sustainable Travel Index. Climate change impacts travel experiences and choices. Europe leads the index, with Sweden first. Melbourne ranks top for city sustainability, aiming for net-zero emissions by 2040.
Pegasus Airlines collaborates with Norway's CHOOOSE to allow passengers to calculate and offset flight carbon emissions via flypgs.chooose.today. The initiative promotes understanding personal carbon footprints and supporting climate solutions. Pegasus targets net zero emissions by 2050 and a 20% reduction by 2030.
Australia's 2023 winter was its warmest since 1910, with temperatures 1.53C above average, surpassing the 1996 record. Influenced by global warming and sunny weather, concerns grow over increased springtime bushfires and ongoing climate changes. Eastern regions, including Queensland, Tasmania, and NSW, saw record-breaking warmth.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
JetZero secures a $235 million U.S. Air Force contract for a "blended wing body" aircraft, promising 50% fuel savings. With flights expected in 2027, the design may influence military and civil jets. JetZero aims to fill the middle-market gap between medium and long-haul aircraft despite scepticism. Northrop Grumman, JetZero's partner, will manufacture the demonstrator.
Contrails, the white trails behind planes, trap radiation, contributing to global heating. General Electric Research and University at Albany are developing hydrogen-fueled engines to reduce CO2 emissions. Contrails cause 57% of aviation's warming impact, surpassing fuel CO2 emissions. UAlbany helps G.E. understand the hydrogen engine's effect on contrails and designs experiments for NASA's research centre.
SATAVIA, a contrail prevention tech company, is developing a credit system for mitigating climate warming from aircraft-induced clouds. Gold Standard approved its methodology, potentially leading to non-CO2 Certified Mitigation Outcome Units (CMOUs) for contrail management.
SATAVIA's management platform called DECISION:NETZERO optimises flight plans for contrail prevention. The company aims for Design Certification in 2024, targeting a 50% reduction in non-CO2 impact by 2030 without regulatory changes. SATAVIA collaborates with airlines like Etihad, emphasising the significance of addressing non-CO2 effects in aviation.
Oman Air has replaced plastic wrappings for blankets and mattresses in premium cabins with eco-friendly paper bands, reducing 21.6 tons of plastic annually. This supports their ongoing sustainability efforts, including reducing onboard plastic usage and improving fuel efficiency.
Collins Aerospace is advancing engine technologies to minimise carbon emissions and costs. Prioritising electrically powered aircraft over fossil fuels, Collins is replacing pneumatic systems with modern electrical ones. Their efforts have led to increased fuel efficiency, such as in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. With investments exceeding $3 billion in electric architecture, they're working on hybrid-electric propulsion systems alongside Pratt & Whitney, aiming for a sustainable aviation future.
Dulles International Airport is launching the U.S.'s largest airport clean energy project with a $200 million investment in a solar and battery storage initiative. The project includes 200,000 solar panels, 50 MW battery storage, and E.V. amenities. It's anticipated to start operations in 2026, promoting sustainable aviation.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
A unique coalition in Minnesota involving Bank of America, Delta Air Lines, Ecolab, and Xcel Energy aims to accelerate the production and adoption of SAF to help aviation achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Through the Minnesota SAF Hub, these entities, alongside other partners, are dedicated to scaling SAF production, fostering technological advancements, and supporting research for commercial viability. SAF can significantly reduce carbon emissions, and this coalition's strategy focuses on creating an integrated value chain and maximising its environmental benefits.
LanzaTech is advancing its consultation for a proposed facility to produce SAF from ethanol in the U.K. From August 14 to September 13, the consultation provides the opportunity to comment directly to LanzaTech on its proposals. If approved, the facility, which would be located at Crown Wharf in Port Talbot, would produce about 100 million litres of fuel per year, supporting the U.K.'s 2030 sustainability goals and creating 150 jobs.
U.S. corn farmers and biofuel producers anticipate benefits from converting ethanol into SAF, pending tax policy decisions. Green Plains Inc.'s CEO Todd Becker highlights disputes over tracking SAF emissions, which could impact tax credits and the industry's future amid rising electric vehicle usage.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
Swedish electric aircraft manufacturer Heart Aerospace joins the Regional Airline Association (RAA), enhancing its influence in North American aviation. The partnership supports revitalised air routes and reduced carbon footprints with Heart's ES-30 electric aeroplane.
ZeroAvia partners with clean energy leader Masdar to explore hydrogen production for aviation. Focusing on North America, Europe, and potential clean flight operations in the UAE, they aim to power hydrogen-fueled commercial flights. Both companies emphasise the significance of green hydrogen in decarbonising aviation.
eHang, having completed its flight test program with China's aviation authority, is poised to launch the world's first autonomous electric VTOL air taxi. While competitors face lengthy certification processes in the U.S. and Europe, eHang's quick approval in China, where regulations have been relaxed, positions it ahead in the eVTOL market. The EH218 aircraft offers short-range flights, with eHang emphasising its safety in autonomous operation.
NASA's SABERS initiative is developing a solid-state battery for aviation applications, offering greater safety and efficiency than traditional Li-ion batteries. This sulphur selenium battery is lightweight and addresses the aviation sector's unique demands, such as high energy storage and rapid discharge. Unlike standard batteries, this design layers cells without individual casings, optimising energy density and weight. With the potential to operate in extreme temperatures and less cooling requirement, SABERS aims to revolutionise aerospace battery technology.
Rolls-Royce is testing its eVTOL lift motor and will supply units to Embraer for Eve Air Mobility’s prototype. The motor produces 150 kW power and features a unique winding configuration. Rolls is also developing a high-power EPU for commuter aircraft and a 600-1,200-kW turbogenerator for hybrid-electric systems, optimised for sustainable fuels.
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