Hybrid Eco-Friendly Planes

Wednesday Series:  Innovation Addressing Pressing Global Needs - Hybrid Electric Planes Cutting CO2 Emissions

The signs of climate change are all around us.  Extreme weather, rising sea levels, melting polar icecaps, deadly disease outbreaks, severe environmental stress on animals.  The Union of Concerned Scientists says the cause is too much heat trapping carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. A major contributor is global aircraft exhaust.  Enter a solution - the dawn of electric powered planes.  The biggest player:  hybrid electric planes

Take-Offs

Current aircraft spew 500 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.  Scientists warn if the amount of CO2 isn't cut 80% by 2050, it will be disastrous.  As it stands right now, the amount of CO2 is expected to triple by mid-century.  By contrast, electric planes spew no CO2.  They are clean, green technology and can be cheap to operate.  An example is the 2-seat e-Genius.  It successfully flew over the Alps.  The operational cost of flying 300 miles is $15.00.  But the bigger the e-plane, the more expensive it is to operate.  That's why the industry is turning to hybrid e-planes.


Hybrid Approach
Zunum Aero just received an order from JetSuite for 100 hybrid electric planes.  Delivery is 2020. The 12 seat aircrafts are like a Prius, partially electric.  Zunum is a startup, backed by JetBlue Technology Ventures and Boeing Horizon X.  Both Boeing and JetBlue are banking on hybrid e-planes before all electric aircraft become widely used.  The hybrid is eco-friendly.  It produces 80% to 100% less carbon emissions than traditional aircraft.  Zunum and an Israeli company Eviation with a 9 seat all electric aircraft, plan on test flights of the e-planes in 2019.  The goal is to make these planes faster, cheaper and much more eco-friendly than current airplane fleets.

Battery Power

Experts predict that by 2035 all electric planes will be carrying 100 plus passengers routinely.  Between now and then the energy storage problem has to be solved.  To operate commercially, electric planes need a massive load of batteries.  That impacts weight, flight performance and range.
The industry is working on the development of battery packages that solve the weight problem, are reliable and provide substantial range, for instance to fly from New York to Chicago.