|The Future of Aviation|
|Written by Cailtin McHose, Four Green Steps|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012 08:54|
Written by Cailtin McHose, Four Green Steps
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It is unfortunate that air travel is currently the most practical means for international travel considering how polluting aircrafts are. Airplanes emit CO2, water vapor, and other greenhouse gases directly into the troposphere and the stratosphere, causing their emissions to be even more potent contributors to global warming caused by the greenhouse effect.
Options to offset greenhouse emissions associated with flying are becoming increasingly popular as concern for the future of our planet and atmosphere grows. Critics of carbon offsetting programs argue that this method of fixing the damage once it has already occurred fails to address the underlying issue of ever increasing air pollution. Fortunately, innovations in the aviation industry are targeted at reducing the environmental burden associated with fuel-burning aircrafts.
Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner is the fleet’s most fuel efficient jet, using up to 20% less fuel than regular airplanes. It is constructed using mainly composite materials, which are lighter than traditional construction materials (including aluminum, titanium, and steel). The 787 Dreamliner sits up to 250 passengers and has begun operating mainly to and from Japan, as All Nippon Airlines is currently the only airline company to use this aircraft.
In a more widespread attempt to reduce emissions from fuel-burning, several airliners including Virgin Atlantic, Continental Airlines, Air China, and Japan Airlines among others have begun filling up their tanks with aviation biofuel. There has been a push to use what are called second generation biofuels, or sustainable biofuels, whose production does not compete with food production.
Other technologies are still in the making or are not yet available for commercial use. These include electric aircraft; for example, ones that are powered by electricity harnessed by solar panels. One developer of a solar powered plane is Solar Impulse, located in Switzerland. The company began designing in 2003 and has since built, test flew, and manned their eco-friendly airplane. By 2013, Solar Impulse plans to complete a tour around the world, albeit in stages.
Thanks to these emerging innovations and technologies, there is hope that in the near future we will be able to travel great distances guilt-free.
Image courtesy of Boeing.com
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