Airbus, Rolls Royce, and Siemens eyeing Hybrid Technology to Propel Commercial Planes

The aviation industry is known for its notoriety for pollution and noise. In fact, the European Commission envisions an aviation industry that produces 60 percent lesser carbon dioxide, 90 percent lower nitrogen oxide, and 75 percent lesser noise by 2050. So far, the most significant efforts towards the European Commissions’ goals have been announced by Airbus, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce. Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ chief technology officer, is optimistic that hybrid-electric technology is the future of aviation.
The three companies are working on a joint venture, E-Fan X programme, that will test an electric engine alongside three jet engines on BAe 146 aircraft. As expected, the venture will cost the three firms tens of millions of pounds, but that is the price that the companies are willing to pay to make the aviation industry more eco-friendly. The three corporations are planning to fly a demonstrator plane in the next two years and commission commercial applications in 2025. A spokeswoman for the venture emphasized that the three companies are working on developing a hybrid technology as opposed to fully electric commercial planes as the latter has proved challenging.
Rolls Royce’s role in the venture is at the very heart of the project. The company will develop an electricity generator that will power the E-Fan X plane. Rolls Royce has a challenging task of making the generator lightweight without compromising performance. The Rolls Royce generator will run on jet fuel to generate power for the electric engine. Also, Rolls Royce will make an effort to store any excess energy in batteries; the energy will be handy in either taking off or landing.
BBC’s Theo Legget notes that the Airbus mission is laudable. According to him, jet fuel accounts for between 17 percent to 35 percent of an airline’s running costs. Therefore, the reduction on overreliance on fossil fuel will significantly improve an airline’s earnings. Although he supports the move by the three firms, he believes the technology needs to be proven.

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