Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Future Transport Technologies

Siemens is getting ready to unveil their 'eHighway' technologies. See the above video for an explanation how hybrid trucks will connect to overhead powerlines for electric travel. Designboom has a post on these technologies here.

From Popular Science, a fellow says we (he?) can build a starship U.S.S. Enterprise in about 20 years. Here is his website. BTE Dan, as this fellow is known, suggests this project will cost $1 trillion and he has identified tax increases and budget cuts to pay for it (this will apparently be a U.S. project. Sorry Federation!).

Also from Popular Science, a whole issue devoted to future air travel including electric planes and new supersonic aircraft. James Fallows' piece on China's aviation investment and planning is worth reading. The story begins:

When discussing any environmental issue in China, it’s always a struggle to decide which deserves more emphasis: how dire the situation is, or how hard Chinese authorities are trying to cope with it. China’s skies, waters and even sources of food are some of the most poisonously contaminated on Earth. Its efforts to curtail pollution and develop cleaner energy sources are some of the world’s most ambitious.
This tension also informs China’s plans for aviation. The immediate threat posed by airline emissions in China is less obviously dire than, say, the particulate pollution that so often makes big-city air opaque, or the heavy-metal tainting of food and groundwater supplies that has contributed to China’s current cancer epidemic. But airplane emissions are significant and will become more so, especially as aerospace grows faster than most other parts of China’s economy.
Demand for air travel has grown little in the Western world in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, but it has increased fourfold in China, and is growing in the rest of the developing world too. The U.S. and all the countries in Europe together have fewer than 10 new commercial airports now under construction; China is building perhaps 100 new ones and expanding many more. Boeing and Airbus base their major sales hopes for the coming generation of airliners in China. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is investing heavily in the aircraft that may eventually compete against them, Comac’s regional ARJ21 and long-haul C919.
Like so many aspects of China’s growth, all of this will have serious consequences for the environment. The world’s airliners produce about 2 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions and play at least twice as large a role in climate change because the effect of CO2 and some other greenhouse gases is greater at high altitude. Aviation’s share of global emissions has been rising, and China’s share in the aviation total has been rising faster still. If the current trend were to continue, efforts to reduce emissions elsewhere could be swamped by the sheer increase in air travel in the skies over China.
He covers a lot of ground about GPS technologies, algae fuels and  flight planning, all of which matter for US and European aviation.
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