EasyJet Begin Trial Of Hybrid Aircraft To Cut Costs
With technology sourced from Formula 1 cars, the airline will test a hydrogen fuel cell system on a single plane
A significant amount of modern everyday technology comes about as the result of research and investment by Formula 1 teams, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and fuel consumption.
EasyJet are looking to benefit from this kind of technology by trialling a new hybrid plane that could significantly reduce the amount of fuel used by its fleet or passenger aircraft. It works by storing the energy generated by the brakes as the plane lands, which is then ready for use during taxiing on the ground or when the main engines are turned off.
This technology is similar to the F1 kinetic energy recovery system that was developed in recent years. It harnessed and stored the kinetic energy a car would generate under breaking and transformed it into a boost of additional power during acceleration.
Fuel use could be substantially reduced
It is estimated that EasyJet could stand to save up to 4% of its annual fuel total - a huge amount equivalent to 50,000 tonnes. Their aircraft would use the technology during lengthy taxi operations where the plane moves from runway to terminal, allowing them to use this hybrid power instead of the main jet engines.
According to EasyJet, they hope to ultimately use the hydrogen fuel cell to replace the auxiliary power unit (APU) in their aircraft. The test place will also be fitted with photovoltaic panels along the fuselage to act as an additional energy source during flight.
Commercial aircraft would rank seventh for carbon emissions if the industry was a country, with 700m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide produced in 2013. With all airlines around the world feeling pressure to reduce passenger jet emissions, this could be a huge leap forward.
EasyJet said it would set up a working group with industry partners to produce detailed plans, before a trial later this year.
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