Hybrid electric airplanes are to aviation what hybrid electric cars are to ground transportation, and like them they run on a combination of batteries and fuels. The problem is that no other sector has the same weight restrictions as ours aerospace sector.
This is why it is necessary to be very cautious in the hybridization process of propulsion systems for aviation. Yet electric airplanes are not stuff of the distant future: very little is missing.
A plane Velis Electros a due posti sta già ronzando silenziosamente in giro per l’Europa, mentre Air Canada ha annunciato 10 giorni fa di avere ordinato 30 aerei elettrici ibridi alla svedese Heart Aerospace, which plans to make them (30 seats) by 2028.
Primi approcci, certo, ma per l’adozione di massa serve più tempo. Quanto? Vediamo un po’.
How could we use electricity
L’uso delle batterie per facilitare il decollo e la salita è un’opzione promettente per i viaggi in aereo. Un altro modo in cui l’energia delle batterie potrebbe essere utilizzata per risparmiare carburante e ridurre le emissioni è quello di far rullare l’aereo sulla pista utilizzando solo l’elettricità. La chiave sta nel trovare il giusto equilibrio tra il peso aggiunto dalla batteria e la quantità di elettricità necessaria per ottenere benefici netti in termini di carburante.
Exactly the problem that research is currently trying to solve.
Hybrid electric planes: when will we see them?
Hybrid planes would still burn fuel during flight, but it could be considerably less than what they consume today. Nonetheless, implementation difficulties make hybridization for larger jets a medium-term option.
Much closer hybrid electric airplanes for medium or short routes. From 2030 to 2035, the first hybrid turboprop engines with 50-80 passengers, or simply used for freight transport, should see the light.
A first, small step
There will be some positive signs: first of all, airlines will be able to upgrade small airports, or contribute to the construction of new “regional” hubs, reducing the congestion of large structures.
Secondly, energy savings: there will be, even if the first examples could reduce it "Only" about 10%. The next is expected as the first decade that will see planes equipped with electric propellers put their nose in the sky, in combination with more sustainable fuels (based on corn, oilseeds , algae and other fats.).
While hybrid electric planes aren't ready for mass consumption yet, the signs are positive. And clear: they indicate that they will become more prevalent in the next decade or so. With the potential to reduce emissions up to 80%, will play a significant role in making air travel more sustainable.