Research Assessment 4
This article discussed the negative impacts of aviation on the environment and the complexity of the issue. The type of aircraft and the sensitivity of the climate and ozone layer of the region where the aircraft is flying. Another important issue is that non CO2 emissions are also an important part of the problem, but international regulations rarely take them into account. The article offered solutions with limitations, such as climate optimal routing, restricting air travel in sensitive climates, and adopting strut braced wings. This article was a summary of discussion at the Environmentally Compatible Air Transport Systems Conference in Germany.
The article is very interesting. In my past two research assessments I looked into various fuel sources for aircrafts including: electrical and battery powered aircrafts and hybrid fuel (half liquid and solid propellant). The electrical and battery powered research was very interesting to me because it would be significantly better for the environment, which is something I am very passionate about. Aerospace technology can be improved in many ways and I think that making aviation more environmentally friendly is an important research path. This led me to look into the current environmental consequences of aircrafts.
I found the lack of inclusion of the non CO2 emissions to be perplexing. Aircrafts emit nitrogen and sulfur oxides as well as hydrocarbons. The contrails of aircrafts have also been associated with increasing temperature and creating more cirrus clouds that trap heat and increase the global temperature. These radiative emissions account for a significant amount of the emissions of aircrafts and are thought to be greater than CO2 emissions. The lack of inclusion of non CO2 emissions in international agreements like the Paris Agreement do nothing to force the industry to make changes and dedicate resources.
I want to be a part of research that decreases the current rate of aviation damage on the environment. The issue is very intriguing to me, since it requires a lot of problem solving and determination, I feel like I want to stay updated on the research and look into it in the future when I am an adult. Making more lightweight efficient aircrafts would reduce emissions, changing the jet fuel and designing aircrafts that emit less pollutants is necessary for the improvement of aviation. This could also be a really interesting original work project. I could compare the impacts of differing aircrafts to CO2 and non CO2 emissions to see if there is a correlation and research into what are the best ways to alter the engineering of aircrafts to decrease emissions.
Another thing I need to look into is strut braced wings to see how they decrease emissions for aircrafts to see if this technology can be applied to another other parts of the aircraft.
The article addresses the possibility of rerouting or creating no fly zones to protect climate sensitive regions. As I was reading this, I realized that there are many issues with these proposals. Just the sheer practicality of the situation poses a threat. It would require massive coordination across state and national borders. Additionally, how do you determine when to turn on the no fly zone, especially if it conflicts with direct routing which can decrease CO2 emissions in another region. These are the best solutions to combat the underrated problems of aviation. This is why I believe that targeting research and focusing resources to look into this complex issue is very beneficial to the global aviation community and I plan on researching more into this and determining what research firms, universities, and aerospace and aviation companies are attempting to solve it.