Flight risk: can we take the carbon out of air travel?

(The Guardian, 31 Aug 2019) Greta Thunberg’s zero-carbon Atlantic crossing is not an option for most. But it might be in years to come, if experiments with hydrogen, solar and batteries pay off.

“Flight shaming is not going to solve all our problems,” says Liam Megill at the start of another marathon day trying to make aviation history. “You can’t take a train to the [United] States, so instead we have to make flying sustainable.”

Greta Thunberg demonstrated this week that you can travel long haul without burning fossil fuels. But not everyone can travel on a zero-carbon yacht.

In the global battle against carbon, aviation is one of the toughest challenges of all. Grids are getting ever greener thanks to renewables, cars are going electric, even construction is exploring new ways to become more sustainable.

But air travel is popular, dirty and, most importantly of all, hard to power with anything other than hydrocarbons.

That’s where Megill comes in. The German-Canadian is seeking the holy grail of air travel – a manned aircraft powered by a liquid hydrogen fuel cell. The technology, engineered by the non-profit organisation AeroDelft which he co-founded in 2017, promises a sort of atmospheric alchemy: a power source whose principal emission is water vapour.

External link

The Guardian, 31 Aug 2019: Flight risk: can we take the carbon out of air travel?