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Could This Zero-Emissions, Triple-Decker Solar Plane Revolutionize the Aviation Industry?
As the Solar Impulse 2 makes its historic round-the-world trip powered only by the energy of the sun, it's not so crazy to think that sometime in the future, commercial flying will abandon dirty fossil fuels.
Photo credit: Behance
Well, the future of air travel might come sooner than we think, as Spanish graphic designer Oscar Vinals believes his conceptual zero-emission plane dubbed the "AWWA-QG Progress Eagle" could take off within the next 15 years.
According to CNN, the plane is powered by six hydrogen engines including a rear engine that doubles as a wind turbine. Solar panels on the roof and wings would also provide the ultralight plane with juice as it flies.
"The best aspect of the Progress Eagle would be its capacity to generate its own energy," Vinals told CNN, adding that the flight would be "noiseless."
Vinals' triple-decker aircraft could carry up to 800 passengers. The cockpit is located on the second floor, offering the pilots with panoramic views and a room with beds, coffee and workspace for the crew members. Because there's much more space than the standard commercial plane, there could be space for private rooms, shops and restaurants.
Photo credit: Behance
"Twelve hours in an airplane could feel more like a select hotel," Vinals said. "It would reduce the stress of a long flight."
With a 96-meter wingspan (about 314 feet), the plane is about as large as two Olympic swimming pools. But Vinals envisions that the wings could fold in order to reduce its size and meet international airport regulations. To compare a Boeing 777 has the wingspan of about 60 meters (197 ft).
Vinals described on the website Behance that the lightweight Progress Eagle is designed with “smart and self-repairing wings, composed by carbon nanotube and carbon fibers,” and a “hollow endoskeleton in an ultra-lightweight beehive-shape of titanium and graphene.”
Ever the aviation visionary, Vinals came up with a similar AWWA Sky Whale last year that could carry 755 passengers.
Photo credit: Behance
Vinals admitted that modern technology is a little off from allowing his dream machine to take flight. However, he contended that "today we have about 40 percent of the technology needed to build it."
"Quantum solar cells, nanowires to kinetic power, micro radio wave harvesters—these technologies only exist in a limited scale at the best laboratories around the world," he said to CNN. "But in a few years, we could overcome our limits and build anything imaginable."
Whatever your thoughts are on the feasibility of a plane like this, the whole idea of carbon-free flying is something that could revolutionize the aviation industry.
Check out the video below to see Vinals' designs of Progress Eagle:
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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›