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Technology Shaping the Future of Green Travel

In the last decade, more and more people have become conscious of man's impact on the environment. 'Eco-friendly' is no longer merely the mantra of hemp-wearing hippies, but has become the latest buzz-word of a more liberal generation. The more we look to save the planet, the more big corporations have to find ways of keeping up with this increasingly popular trend - resulting in some incredible advances in eco-friendly travel technology.

Hybrid Energy Ships

UN reports state that merchant shipping is responsible for almost 5% of all global emissions, but could hybrid energy revolutionize the shipping industry? The Viking Lady is the world's first full hybrid energy ship, and uses state-of-the-art electric battery systems to convert Liquefied Natural Gas into electricity with very little emissions at all. In fact, after installing this hybrid system, the Viking Lady has seen a 20% to 30% reduction in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The technology on-board the Viking Lady is in continual development, constantly pushing the boundaries of hybrid energy. On completion, developers hope that this technology will bring a number of benefits including:

  • Reduction of CO2 Emissions by 30%
  • Complete eradication of Harmful Substance Emissions (such as Nitrous Oxide and Sulphur Oxide).
  • Up to 30% more efficient energy production.

Queue at london airport

Engine-less taxiing

Electric dynamos have been used to generate power for many years and are a vital component in all wind-turbine and hydro-electric generators across the globe. But could they also be used to provide electric power to landed aircraft?

The University of Lincoln has proposed that an advanced dynamo system could be used to harness the power generated by the rotation of aircraft landing gear as it touches down on the runway - a novel idea but one which has been proved feasible in their latest research. Benefits would include:

  • Reduced ground-based fuel consumption.
  • Reduced emissions.
  • Reduced noise levels in and around airports.

The university proposes that the next generation of aircraft could use motor-generators built into the landing gear to harness the energy that is currently wasted and use this to power taxiing - a process that currently involves running the aircrafts jet-engines while grounded.

Low-Carbon Aviation Fuel

In October 2011, Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin (along with Bio-Fuel specialists at LanzaTech) have developed a new kind of jet fuel that produces 50% less carbon emissions - a colossal reduction compared to current fuels. This astounding development could revolutionize the aviation industry, but is currently still in development.

This remarkable process has been described as 'recycling' and uses waste gases from a number of sources, such as:

  • Steel Mills.
  • Chemical Refineries.
  • Biomass Syngas.
  • Reformed Natural Gas.

Virgin plans to refine, ferment and convert these gases for use as jet fuel. The best part is that many of these gases would otherwise be burned into the atmosphere, meaning that not only does the process produce a more efficient fuel, but it's also cleaning up the initial industrial process as well. The good news is that LanzaTech estimates that this technology can be used in over 65% of the world's steel mills, meaning worldwide production is entirely possible.