Aviation and Environment
One of the major concerns of human kind is environment. It is well known that the environmental pollution has caused already irriversible problems such as the hole on the ozone layer, the rise in temperature etc. An obvious try by governments, global organazations and companies to reduce the main causes of pollution has begun.
In the past, where environmental pollution were in a lower level, most of the companies including of course the aviation companies, were aware of the impact they have to the environment but there try to reduce these impact was focused in areas such as noise and air quality. Today the improvement in these areas still exists but what they figured out is that the actual problem that needs an urgent attention is the CO2 emissions.
The impact of aviation in the global CO2 emissions may seem to be huge considering these gicantic engines and the every day use of airplanes but actually it is only 2%(Fig.1). An airplane engine except CO2 emitts other dangerous gases for the environment. These gases are oxides of nitrogen(NOx) and vapour trails most commonly known as contrails which can be the cause of cirrus clouds. There are not many details about NOx and contrails and there actuall impact on the enviroment even though everybody knows that the damage due to NOx and contrails compared to the damage due to CO2 is negligible. Of course the reason of these emissions are the engines meaning that a serious change has to be done but are the engines the actuall problem?
In this stage we have to think of the airplane itself. The two major parts of an airplane is the airframe and the engines. A survey (Fig.2) shows that a reduction in CO2 emissions in aviation can be gained 20-25% from the airframe, 15-20% from the engine and 5-10% from the operations factor.
Fig.1: Main sources of CO2 emissions and there
impact in percentage.
Fig.1: Main sources of CO2 emissions and there impact in percentage.
Fig.2: Main sources from which a reduction in CO2
emissions can be achieved.
Fig.2: Main sources from which a reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved.
Considering the results of this survey the aviation industry has to focus into the development of the most efficient airframe but in the same time the research for a non harmful to the environment engine is necessary.
Looking at what the major aviation companies doing for the moment we can clearly see that there is an obvious concern about the affect there products have on the environment. Taking for example the two most known turbine engine producers “rolls royce” and “general electrics” and having a look at what they have done to improve there products in the last few years we can say that they improved there engines so the CO2 and other harmfull gas emissions are reduced to minimum without losing any power. The good think is that they are still spending a huge amount of money in research and every year they set some goals that they have to achieve in aperiod of time. For instance “Rolls Royce” has already set three goals: 1) to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% per passenger kilometer, 2) to reduce NOx emissions by 80% and 3) to reduce noise levels by 50% and all these has to be done by the year 2020. Now lets have a look at what the two major aircraft producers are doing about the environment. “Airbus” and “Boeing” are spending every year the same enormous amount on money as the engine producers do on research trying to find new materials that by using them the airframes will become lighter. For example “Boeing” has almost finished its new “787 Dreamliner”(Fig.4) an airframe that most of it is made of composites. So if the interest on saving the environment already exists why we havent seen more airplanes as the new 787?
Well, the answer to this question is that in the next couple of years we will travel in airplanes that are 90 per cent or even more made of composites. We only have to be patient because the solution for the most efficient machine are composite materials. As we know these materials have just introduced in the aviation world and there usage has rapidly became very common. From turbine engines to airframes composites have begun to dominate making the airplane one of the most efficient and friendly to the environment machines.