The transportation industry generates
the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.
In the United States alone, the sector was responsible for 28% of the greenhouse gases emitted in 2018. And over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel. Within transportation, the aerospace sector is a key source of carbon emissions, producing about one fifth as much as what cars contribute in a year.
In recent years, the push to convert to renewable energy has been widespread in the automotive industry with more and more electric cars being sold every year. However, the aviation industry has been relatively quiet. Why so?
In this video, I explore the concept of energy density
and main reasons why we haven't been flying in all-electric airplanes yet. I also discuss some of the enabling technologies, primarily:
- Lithium-ion batteries
- Lithium-air batteries
- Hydrogen fuel cells
Aircraft manufacturers are already showing an interest in creating designs for planes that operate with zero emissions. September of 2020 was a landmark month for hydrogen powered aircraft with two important announcements:
Sep. 21 - Airbus introduction of ZEROe concept planes
Sep. 24 - ZeroAvia Completes World's First Hydrogen-Electric Passenger Plane Flight
Over the next years, we will see more and more flights with zero emissions. These will initially be smaller planes carrying less than 50 passengers over shorter distances. They will either be powered by hydrogen fuel cells or come as electric vehicles that can take off and land vertically (eVTOLs). There are currently around 200 electric aviation companies/start-ups backed by more than $1 billion from investors around the world. These companies are working on regional aircraft and shorter distance urban air mobility solutions such as point-to-point flying taxis, electric multi-copters, and personal passenger drones. Take a look at some of these companies and their concept designs below (in addition to what I showcase in the video).
Hope you find this video informative. As always, please let me know what you think in the comments section