What is the reality of up & coming sustainable air-based vehicles?
Let's Take a Look at the World & Near Future of Electric Airplanes:
Before the pandemic even hit, the aviation sector of the world pumped out about a billion tons of O2 into the atmosphere annually, which is about 3 percent of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wow! If that amount and source is left unchecked and continues on its current fast-paced-growth trajectory, the total amount of carbon emissions from airplanes will be approximately tripled by 2050. This, among many other statistics, is a huge reason why the world and it’s scientists are looking towards electric vehicles as the next wave of transportation.
Electric airplanes are a big step and part of this sustainable movement. As its adaptation heads towards the commercial use of them, we start to see some strides! Not too long ago the first commercial electric plane, the Aerospace Electric Aircraft Corporation’s (AEAC) ePlane 1, made its first flight in only 2017. This was developed by a dedicated team of engineers from the University of Arizona and it was even funded by NASA! The ePlane 1 is powered by 10,000 lithium-ion batteries and can reach speeds of 182 mph, which is pretty impressive when we compare costs and efficiency all around.
Now that this field is opening up and more eyes are set on an actual sustainable future, the global supply chain for electric aircraft is flourishing. Both Airbus and Boeing have committed to delivering all-electric planes, so we definitely know that some serious hands are working on some serious solutions. The transition seems to have already begun, with over 200 companies around the world now producing electric aircraft parts and subsystems or working on their own projects. The aircraft industry is not alone in its transition to electric flight, either, so we will likely see a full takeover of electric and renewable energy-powered vehicles in every type of utility!
There are currently hybrid systems and projects being worked on as well for the skies -- meaning that they would be a combination of electric power and other fuels, making for a much more efficient fuel-to-distance ratio in-flight. However, because of current limitations, transcontinental and long-haul flights / operations are mostly out of the question for now, while more sustainable aviation fuels and hybrid systems are being implemented. In turn, this gives longer flights and missions a more realistic approach and execution while better tech gets funded and developed for full electric systems. Even through all this there are still some big issues that stump the possibilities of an all electric world. Batteries, for example, usually take rare metals and things that are not the most sustainable or cost-effective or smart in the LONG run of things. Sustainable vehicles will likely be looked at differently as time passes, and we really look forward to how that unfolds. (and plan on getting in on the action sometime!!)
So, what does the future hold for electric airplanes altogether? I guess we will see how these possibilities turn out as new inventions and tech comes out.