Light blogging ahead
I'm heading back to Sweden for a week so the blog will be rather less lively than usual. I have visited almost 30 countries since my first trip with Iceland Air to the U.S. via Reykjavik in 1984. I do dislike the long-haul airtravel routine with crappy meals inside a noisy cabin, but I have always loved looking out the windows gazing at the upper surface of clouds.
And the CO2 emissions are going to be great. A couple of tonnes of CO2 just to go home and say happy birthday to my father and fix a leaking roof...
The European Parliament has debated aviation CO2 emissions:
Commercial airplanes fly at a height of between 8 to 13 km where they emit the gases which alter the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. The higher the plane flies, the more difficult it is for CO2 to break down in the atmosphere. Plane emissions are at present just 3% of the EU total but growing rapidly. If no measures are taken by 2012 “increased emissions from aviation will neutralise more that a quarter of the reductions required by the EU's Kyoto target," said British Green MEP and rapporteur Caroline Lucas.
Hybrid airplane engines? Nice idea. At the 14th European Biomass Conference in Paris, there were several presentations about biojetfuel and biokerosene. ErgoSphere is at least one blogger trying to discuss the issue of what will happen to air travel when oil runs out or gets too expensive:
Methane is the easier of the two to obtain, handle and use. We'll have a healthy supply of it for decades after natural gas wells lose their fizz. It bubbles out of thousands of landfills nationwide, and isn't going to stop unless we stop dumping garbage (which may happen). It can be liquefied at temperatures (99 K) where air is still a gas, and has a liquid density of 0.424. Hydrogen is touchier stuff, not turning to liquid until the temperature gets down to twenty... Kelvin, and is extremely light even as a liquid with a specific gravity of about 0.070. (Strangely, there's about 50% more hydrogen in a liter of liquid methane than there is in a liter of liquid hydrogen.)
Suppose we were going to fuel a 767 with this stuff, and the aircraft requires about the same amount of energy regardless of the specific fuel used. A 767-200E carries 23,980 gallons (90,770 liters) of Jet-A, which is approximately the composition of kerosene...
More airplane news: British tycoon Sir Richard Branson has urged airlines and airport operators to join his Virgin Atlantic carrier in an ambitious plan to curb the aviation industry's contribution to global warming. He says that airlines around the world have to play their part in reducing CO2 emissions given out by commercial planes by up to 25 per cent, and his letter has been addressed also to engine and aircraft manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Boeing, and airport operators including BAA in Britain, according to ABC:
To cut fuel consumption, Virgin Atlantic even plans to reduce the weight of its aircraft through using lighter paint on the exterior and lighter fittings inside the cabin.
That includes changing oxygen bottles from metal to carbon-fibre, and removing empty champagne and beer bottles which have been drunk before the plane leaves the stand for recycling.
Sir Richard says that combined with an earlier and smoother descent by pilots coming into land, the changes would save over 150 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, or 25 per cent of the world's aviation emissions.
"With global warming, the world is heading for a catastrophe," he said.
"The aviation industry must play its part in averting that."
What fuel was Atom, aka Astroboy, using in his flying boots?