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Transportation Power Technology

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight 160

An anonymous reader writes "The aviation industry has taken a tentative step toward electric power with the successful maiden flight of the Airbus E-Fan. The manufacturer known for the massive A380 jetliner began testing this small experimental aircraft last week, with the ultimate aim of lowering the huge carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights. The E-FAN is powered by 120 lithium-polymer batteries, and can fly at speeds up to 136mph. Measuring just 19 feet from nose to tail, the compact aircraft show that Airbus probably isn't ready for commercial zero emissions flight just yet, but it does highlight the potential benefits."
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Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

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  • by DexterIsADog ( 2954149 ) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @06:39PM (#47013589)

    " lowering the huge carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flight" - Until the energy density of batteries goes up and and we have an efficient, carbon dioxide free way to charge them, I'm not sure I see the value here.

    Exactly. I don't see why they bothered in the first place. They should quit. Now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2014 @06:51PM (#47013687)

    YES zero-emissions! The vehicle emits no carbon dioxide.

  • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @08:05PM (#47014079)
    agreed, i came here to post this. I looked for total onboard energy storage (kw-hr) but couldn't find it. I think the most relevant question is the equivalent amount of jet fuel it could hold (or diesel since the direct equivalent is a little turboprop plane).

    we can do some fermi estimation. the article says that the plane has two engines with combined power of 60kW, and has a flight time of 45 min - 1 hr. if you fly for an hour at full power, that's 216 MJ. More likely the batteries are sized assuming the plane is on average running on just a fraction of full power. (waves hands->) let's say 130MJ battery capacity which is 1 gallon of fuel.

    so the e-plane carries 1 gallon-equivalent of energy. Yes, energy density is the main challenge here!
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @08:20PM (#47014157)

    Jet fuel has at least 50 times the energy density of lithium batteries ...

    And various aircraft ranging from a Boeing 777 to a US Navy F/A-18 have been flown using aviation biofuel, carbon neutral. Its experimental an hellaciously expensive but its a more realistic future.

  • by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @09:28PM (#47014523) Journal

    The vehicle itself is zero emission. The cost, environmentally and otherwise, of fuel and production, while important, are separate issues that need to be addressed separately.

    If you try to solve a large, complex, problem in toto, you will likely fail. Breaking it up into manageable pieces is much more likely to succeed, such as starting with the end user product where you get the most bang for the buck and then work up the chain. Transportation is the biggest problem which will take the longest time to effect a transition, so getting started on it is important.

    Once you have the transition to electric vehicles underway, then you can work on the dirtiest of the electric supplies and every time you make the supply cleaner, you automatically make everything powered by that supply cleaner, magnifying the effect of that effort.

    Trying to claim a zero emission vehicle isn't zero emission is just trying to confuse issues and holds back progress.

  • Let's just say... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @02:42AM (#47015487)

    ...for argument's sake, that CO2 is discovered to be an insignificant contributor to what is an almost totally natural, climatic variation. What then, will all of this posturing have achieved?

  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:12AM (#47015535)
    The vehicles themselves ARE zero-emission as they don't emit any CO2. The power source is a different matter. It seems you are confusing zero-emissions and carbon footprints.

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