Although we're still a long way from commercial airplanes powered by a combination of fossil fuel and batteries, a recent feasibility study explored fuel/battery configurations and the energy lifecycle to learn the trade-offs needed to yield the greatest reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
"In the energy supply chain there's a phrase, from 'well to wake.' That is, fuel production begins at the oil well and ends at the wake of the airplane. Tracking costs and environmental implications across this entire lifecycle is important, because the implications for fuel and energy production can be substantially different, depending on the source. In this study, we looked at how technologies need to improve to make a hybridized configuration feasible, where feasibility is assessed based on a need to meet a certain range requirement and feature a large reduction in carbon emissions. The net carbon emissions were calculated from a combination of fuel burn and the carbon impact associated with recharging the batteries," said Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the U of I. READ MORE