In a recent report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was stated that aircraft have been responsible for about 8% of the entire greenhouse gas emission of the country’s transportation sector. This alarming development, coupled by a global demand for a greener aviation, is a huge reason why some manufacturers are beginning to consider building electric planes, says aviation professional Scott Beale.
A conventional jet airplane has an engine that draws in air through the front, a compressor for squeezing it, and fuel that’s sprayed in and lit, allowing for the burning of gases and the plane’s thrust. An electric plane, on the other hand, relies on batteries that provide power to an electric motor which spins the propeller.
However, while electric planes are definitely more efficient, they tend to be slower as the battery-reliant (often lithium-ion) process allows for far less thrust. In any case, there should be huge improvements in aviation technology in the coming decade, from reductions in operating costs and fossil fuel burning to emissions. In fact, NASA already has a prototype electric propulsion plane in the X-57.
There’s also the solar-powered Solar Impulse 2, which successfully circumnavigated the globe at average speeds of 47mph. Even Airbus has already revealed a two-seat electric plane that travels at speeds of 136mph.
In truth, the idea of using electric motors has been around since the World War II, when B-29 bombers used this technology to power the planes’ gun turrets. For now, a more concerted effort is needed to get greener and completely embrace electric aircraft. But their reign is imminent; not only a greener but a quieter way to fly should arrive sooner than projected, adds Scott Beale.