#Sustainability20: U.S. to Spend $1.2 Billion to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases & Other Stories In Aviation
Weekly Roundup - 18/08/23
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
Google has joined the Avelia sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) programme, powered by Shell Aviation and Amex GBT, to increase SAF usage. The initiative supports Google's goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, alongside other major corporations.
Southwest Airlines has launched a new option allowing eligible corporate customers to support sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through Customer SAF Claims. This initiative, part of the SAF Beta Program, enables purchases within Southwest Business Assist™, fostering the emerging SAF industry.
Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) has signed an agreement with 1PointFive to purchase 10,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) credits annually for three years. The credits are from 1PointFive's direct air capture plant in Texas, supporting ANA's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Deadly wildfires in Hawaii, a state known for lush vegetation, have killed at least 36 people. The devastation is linked to long-term climate change effects, including a decline in annual rainfall since 1990 and changing weather patterns. Rising temperatures and altered landscape conditions have contributed to the drying of the region, aligning with global trends affecting rainforests.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
American Airlines and Google reduced contrails by over 50% in a trial by modifying flight paths, potentially decreasing the travel industry's global-warming footprint. The method resulted in a slight increase in fuel use, highlighting a complex issue in balancing environmental concerns in aviation.
The Biden administration will invest $1.2 billion to build two commercial-scale plants for direct air capture of carbon dioxide in Texas and Louisiana. While considered a potential breakthrough in fighting climate change, critics argue the technology is costly and enables continued fossil fuel use.
Boeing, in collaboration with NASA, is developing the experimental X-66A aircraft with a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) configuration. The TTBW's ultrathin wings aim to reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%, supporting the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in aviation by 2050. Ground and flight testing is expected to begin in 2028.
UK-based AIRA (Aircraft Interior Recycling Association) International is set to launch AIRA Q, a certification and recycling system for aircraft cabin interiors. The system, successfully trialled with Acro Aircraft Seating, assigns recycling codes to parts, enabling 100% recyclability of seats. It aims to simplify the recycling process and reduce CO2 emissions associated with manufacturing materials.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
Ireland's Research and Markets projects the SAF market to grow from $1.29 billion in 2023 to $131.12 billion by 2033, with a CAGR of 58.78%. Commercial aviation leads the application, and North America accounts for 48.09% of the global SAF market.
Swedish Biofuels' Alcohol-to-Jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene with aromatics (ATJ-SKA), a potential 100% replacement for fossil jet fuel, has passed a ballot within ASTM International. It's expected to be approved for up to 50% blends in aircraft engines, marking a significant sustainability milestone.
CSIRO and Boeing Australia have released a SAF Roadmap, outlining opportunities for the Australian SAF industry. The roadmap indicates Australia could produce nearly five billion litres of SAF by 2025, supplying almost 60% of projected jet fuel demand, using local materials like agricultural waste. The initiative aligns with net zero carbon emission goals and aims to enhance energy security.
International Airlines Group (IAG) and Microsoft have announced a co-funded purchase agreement for 14,700 tonnes of SAF from Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber refinery. This aligns with IAG's aim to meet 10% of its fuel needs with SAF by 2030 and Microsoft's goal to be carbon negative by 2030.
Airlines are collaborating with farmers to lobby for corn-based biofuels as SAF in the U.S., facing resistance from environmentalists. They're centred on obtaining tax credits through the Inflation Reduction Act, promoting ethanol inclusion in aviation fuel. The push conflicts with models for measuring emissions and land use, while the Biden administration remains divided on endorsing a standard, with potential impacts on aviation's environmental and economic sustainability.
Malaysia's palm oil board and state oil firm Petronas have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the use of used cooking oil and palm oil waste as SAF, aligning with the National Energy Policy to reduce carbon emissions.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) leaders Wisk Aero, Archer Aviation, and Boeing have settled legal disputes over allegedly stolen trade secrets. Archer will make Wisk its exclusive provider of autonomy technology, while Boeing will participate in Archer's PIPE funding. Wisk will receive Archer stock, and the parties have formed a partnership to promote the AAM sector.
AAM company UrbanV has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle transportation networks. UrbanV plans to create city-wide infrastructure for electric flying taxis, starting with services in Rome by 2024, and expanding to 10 vertiports by 2026. AWS will provide cloud technology to automate the passenger experience.
Vertical Aerospace's prototype eVTOL aircraft, named Vx4, crashed during an unmanned flight test at Cotswold Airport in the UK, suffering "significant structural damage." The incident occurred on August 9, 2023, during a motor failure test scenario. The company confirmed the crash but stated there were no injuries, and the investigation is ongoing with relevant authorities.
Sheffield University is installing a hydrogen electrolyser, making it the UK's largest green hydrogen producer among research centres. The hydrogen will be used to develop SAF and support the aviation industry's decarbonisation efforts. The University's Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC) will collaborate with industry partners in this endeavour.
The global hydrogen aircraft market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.4% from 2023 to 2030, reaching a value of $27.69 billion by 2030, according to Coherent Market Insights. The growth is driven by efforts to decarbonise aviation, technological advancements in green hydrogen, and increasing air passenger traffic. Challenges include the high production and management costs of hydrogen.
In 2019, NASA funded CHEETA, a $6 million project to develop all-electric aircraft. Collaborating with academic institutions, Boeing, GE, and the Air Force Research Lab, the focus is on cryogenic hydrogen and superconducting technology. The goal is to create sustainable aviation solutions to reduce emissions, aligning with industry efforts to move away from fossil fuels. The initiative shows promise, despite challenges in scaling and infrastructure.
The ASKA A5 flying car completed its first test flight and has received authorisation to drive on public roads from the US Department of Motor Vehicles. Achieving both Special Airworthiness Certification and Certificate of Authorisation from the FAA, the eVTOL aircraft is looking towards commercialisation in 2026, having already secured $50 million in pre-orders.
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