#Sustainability20: Twelve Launches First Commercial-Scale SAF Production Facility & More
Weekly Roundup - 09/02/24
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
The European Commission proposes a 90% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, aiming for climate neutrality. This goal, slightly lower than experts recommended, requires a swift transition to a clean economy.
New research commissioned by Royal Schiphol Group suggests cutting carbon emissions by 30% below 2019 levels before 2030, surpassing the national goal of 9%, to align with Paris Agreement targets.
IATA's Director General, Willie Walsh, expressed concern over the low production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which accounted for only 3% of global renewable fuel production in 2023. Urgent action is needed to boost SAF output to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
Global temperatures have risen by over 1.5 degrees Celsius in the past 12 months, surpassing a crucial threshold set by the Paris Agreement to limit warming. This signals the urgent need for significant climate action.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
The 2023 Air Transport IT Insights report by SITA highlights increased IT expenditure in airports and airlines, reaching $10.8 billion and $34.5 billion, respectively. Investments prioritise enhancing passenger experience, operational efficiency, and sustainability through biometrics, data analytics, and AI.
daa announced plans to accelerate climate and sustainability efforts at Dublin and Cork airports, targeting net zero emissions by 2050 with a €400m investment. Initiatives include reducing carbon emissions, exploring renewable energy sources, and collaborating on SAF.
EasyJet is pioneering satellite technology Iris to optimise flight paths, reduce delays, and counter emissions. ESA partnership enhances flight efficiency, crucial for industry's net-zero goals. Initial deployment on select routes with plans for wider adoption.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
California-based carbon utilisation company Twelve announced the launch of its commercial-scale carbon transformation unit on 8 February, a significant step towards advancing SAF production. The facility, located in Moses Lake, Washington, uses an electrochemical reactor called OPUS to convert CO2 from a nearby ethanol plant into hydrocarbons. The synthetic gas produced will serve as a basis for SAF, with the facility expected to be operational by the year-end.
A simple, cheap pretreatment promises to radically cut the price of SAF made from waste wood biomass – potentially making it cost-competitive with fossil-based jet fuel. SAF offers cleaner burning, reduced emissions, and the potential for net carbon negativity.
A group of aviation, SAF, and climate experts have joined to establish Future Energy Global. This Ireland-based company, backed by aircraft winglet technology leader Aviation Partners, looks to help channel the more than a trillion dollars in investment required for the aviation industry to reach its goal of a net-zero emissions future.
Neste and Amelia, a French regional airline, have closed an agreement for the supply of blended Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™. Amelia has been using the SAF for all its flights departing from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol since 1 January 2024.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
Chinese eHang's EH 216 eVTOL, cleared for commercial use in China, now has a retail price of 2.39 million RMB (about USD 332,304). It's a two-passenger autonomous aircraft with a top speed of 130 km/h.
Cosmic Aerospace secures $4.5 million for the development of the Skylark, an all-electric regional airplane with a 1,000-kilometer range. Unlike others, it focuses on airframe and propulsion efficiency rather than battery advancements.
Heart Aerospace secures $107 million in funding for its ES-30 hybrid-electric regional airplane, aiming for type certification by 2028. The aircraft promises reduced emissions, noise pollution, and operating costs.
Archer Aviation completes Phase 1 testing for its eVTOL aircraft, the Midnight, in just three months, progressing towards certification and aiming to revolutionise urban commuting with electric air taxis.
Startup airline flyv partners with ZeroAvia to explore hydrogen-electric engines for low-cost, on-demand flights. Utilising AI for flexible booking, flyv aims to operate small, zero-emission aircraft, aligning with ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric engine development.
Beta Technologies and Bristow Group showcase Beta's Alia eCTOL aircraft in Houma, Louisiana, marking the electric aircraft's debut in the state. Bristow aims to integrate electric aviation into its global services.
Inspired by Lawrence Hargrave's box kite, AMSL Aero is developing the Vertiia, an electric-hydrogen air ambulance in a shed in Narromine. With a recent grant, they aim to advance their prototype.
Montgomery Regional Airport collaborates with BETA Technologies and Alabama Power to unveil Alabama's first electric aircraft charging station. The multimodal charging stations aim to support electric transportation growth and economic opportunities.
Archer Aviation collaborates with NASA to test lithium-ion battery cells for advanced air mobility and space applications, aiming for FAA certification for its Midnight aircraft by late 2024.
A hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine aircraft, seating four, completed its inaugural flight in Shenyang, China. The prototype, led by Yang Fengtian, showcased domestically manufactured core components and reached a cruising speed of 180km/h.
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