Electrification in Aviation
The key developments in electrical aviation include a plane without movable parts which utilizes electrically charged ions rather than using conventional engines to work and an electric engine powertrain that caters to sustainability due to no jet emissions.
1. PLANE WITHOUT MOVING PARTS
- This newly developed technology is referred to as a ‘solid-state’ plane. The plane has "no moving parts and uses a powerful electric field to create charged nitrogen ions which are then expelled from the aircraft." This technology is being developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Planes without moving parts is a breakthrough in electrical aviation. It is a new development never previously thought possible by propelling an aircraft using accelerated ionized gas
- Aeronautical engineers globally are trying hard to find ways to use electric propulsion. Therefore, this technology is offering something else that, at some point in the future, both manned and unmanned aircraft will be more efficient, and not contribute to pollution.
- The plane allows industry experts to gain knowledge of engineering expertise in its design. This is due to its thin size and light weight, adding to the propulsion method itself.
- Another feature that allows for more excitement in aviation circles is its silent flight feature, which may be rather beneficial. Along with the electric feature, "there is also an option for high-altitude solar-powered flight by which, the lack of moving parts would allow the plane to fly for years on end, acting as a pseudo-satellite."
- Planes without moving parts could impact the future by creating safer planes as a regular airplane requires fast-turning turbines to foster enough thrust and power to lift the plane and stay in the air. This new technology would not require this as it powers itself without any engines.
- These types of planes would be quieter within the airspace they travel as well as the environment as they do not utilize traditional engines to power them.
- Another potential impact is that it would be easier to take care of the planes hence, using fewer resources than required by a regular airplane.
- The technology used by the electrical feature would mean no gas emissions will be available to harm the environment.
- The propulsion systems utilized would facilitate fuel efficiency.
2. ZEROVIA ELECTRIC POWER TRAIN
- This is a hydrogen fuel cell (electric) powertrain for aviation. It stands as a small aircraft that uses hydrogen for power rather than conventional fuel and will be used to carry small flight with a 500-mile radius.
- The Zerovia electric powertrain is developed by ZeroAvia and is also known as an airtrain or drivetrain.
- This newly designed aviation vehicle "focuses on delivering the same performance as a conventional aircraft engine, but at a much lower operating cost."
- The powertrain will be available to both commercial operators and aircraft manufacturers.
- At the current time, it is "the largest zero-emission aircraft that flies without any fossil fuel support."
- Based on its flight tests, it is able to provide maximum power delivery targets on its 500-mile flights. This will serve short-haul and commuter air travel markets. These flights currently make up almost half the commercial flights worldwide.
- The hydrogen-powered train is so far the most promising and cost-competitive alternative to the incumbent fossil-based technologies existing today. ZeroAvia is now a leading source with its mission to decarbonize the aviation sector.
- The hydrogen-based technology diminishes any need for fossil fuel support. It allows for economical use of smaller local airports for travel with practically no security lines or delays, and an overall more pleasant flying experience.
- The powertrain is created with multipurpose employment and could be operated in the areas of cargo, air taxi, and agriculture.
- This will contribute to productivity where ZeroAvia will lease the powertrain to customers and provide fuel and maintenance, and customers will pay only for the hours that they use the powertrain.
- The cost of operating the powertrain will be low since the total cost of operation will be about half that of flying conventional planes.
- The use of hydrogen-electric technology will also be cheaper to use than battery-electric planes. This is because high-density batteries have to be replaced often.
- There are no physical restrictions on the hydrogen powertrain that would disallow it to be used in a large aircraft for long distances. However, additional certifications are needed.
- The powertrain technology is rather adaptable and will eventually be utilized for various types of aircraft, including light singles, helicopters, and unmanned air vehicles.
In seeking to employ this study, the first step taken was to look into developments within the aviation field. This was found through websites such as The Guardian and Green Car Congress. The next step was to explain what the development was and describe how it worked. After this we looked into how the development is moving the industry forward. Lastly, we got information on the future impacts of the development by visiting websites specific to sustainability. One specific website was Green Car Congress.