Here are the latest technology developments in sustainable mobility and travel in the air and land transport industries this September 2022.
6 firms establish biomass research association
Six private companies have recently formed an alliance last July 1 to start the research on bioethanol fuel production to achieve a carbon-neutral society. Eneos Corp, Suzuki Motor Corp, Subaru Corp, Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd, Toyota Motor Corp, and Toyota Tsusho Corp have established the Research Association of Biomass Innovation for Next Generation Automobile Fuels (Research Association), to study ways to optimize the process of producing fuel. Board chair Koichi Nakata (head of the carbon neutral development division of Toyota Motor Corp) will head the Research Association, with headquarters at the Fukushima Okuma Incubation Center in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
According to the Research Association, it’s crucial to provide diverse energy options to meet the needs of many different regions and customers to achieve carbon neutrality. Hydrogen and synthetic fuels based on electricity from renewable energy sources, as well as bioethanol fuel able to reduce CO2 emissions through photosynthesis in plants, are promising options. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed its effectiveness on climate change. However, it is essential to clarify the issues and search for a solution regarding CO2 emission reduction and social implementation throughout the manufacturing process, in addition to raw material procurement for any of these fuels.
This Research Association promotes technological research on the use of biomass and the efficient production of bioethanol fuel for automobiles through the optimized circulation of hydrogen, oxygen, and CO2 during production to achieve a carbon-neutral society. Specific research areas are:
Efficient ethanol production systems. To improve production technology for second-generation bioethanol fuel that does not compete with food, the Research Association will design, install, and operate production facilities, identify issues with production, research solutions, and study ways to improve the efficiency of production systems; Byproduct oxygen, CO2 capture, and utilization. The Research Association will study how to use the high O2 concentration generated as a byproduct during hydrogen production and the CO2 generated during bioethanol fuel production;
Efficient operation of the overall system, including fuel utilization. The Research Association will investigate the issues involving bioethanol fuel obtained in automobiles and other vehicles and explore solutions. It will also study model formulas that can make predictions of both raw material cultivation production volumes and fuel production volumes, and: Efficient raw material crop cultivation methods. The Research Organization will develop a system that proposes optimal cultivation methods for maximizing yield and optimizing crop components to secure raw materials for bioethanol fuels. It will aim to improve the accuracy of crop yield production through soil composition surveys and other methods. (Story and photo courtesy of Toyota Global)
Sphere Concept Cars: Audi’s vision of future mobility
This year’s Monterey Car Week culminated with the theme “Electrification and the Future of Premium Mobility.” One of the exhibitors was Audi, which continued its longstanding tradition of energizing (and now electrifying) automotive enthusiasts worldwide. The German automaker showcased all its three sphere concept vehicles. These models represent a glimpse of the brand’s ambitious and electrified vision for the future of mobility.
The Audi ‘skysphere’
The skysphere concept is an electric-powered, two-door convertible. This model was unveiled as the first member of Audi’s new family of concept vehicles. It showcases Audi’s vision for the progressive luxury segment of the future. Designed with a variable wheelbase, the concept vehicle permits two entirely different driving experiences: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. The skysphere’s variable wheelbase utilizes electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with the vehicle’s body and frame components. The interior of the skysphere becomes an interactive space and a platform for captivating experiences thanks to the combination of autonomous driving, a revolutionary redesign of the idea of a traditional interior, and a seamless digital ecosystem.
The body and frame slide into one another and make it possible to vary not only the wheelbase itself but also alter the exterior length of the car by 250 mm. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 mm to enhance both comfort and driving dynamics.
The Audi ‘grandsphere’
As the second of the three “sphere” concept cars introduced by Audi, the grandsphere holds an exceptional place for the brand’s future. Audi compares the experience to a private jet first-class flight made for the road. The 17.6 ft. long grandsphere sedan concept combines the luxuries of private travel in the greatest of comfort with comprehensive onboard experience offerings. Level 4 autonomous driving permits new dimensions of freedom to be possible. While in autonomous mode, the interior of the grandsphere turns into a spacious sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays, with the front seats becoming a first-class lounge offering maximum space and access to all the integrated functions of a holistic digital ecosystem. High-resolution projections replace traditional gauges and display screens onto interior surfaces. The projected display is controlled by either a sensor bar under the projection surfaces, haptic feedback controls, or advanced eye tracking and gesture controls.
The Audi ‘urbansphere’
Designers and engineers initially created the urbansphere for use in traffic-dense Chinese megacities, although the concept is also suitable for any other metropolitan center worldwide. Audi sees these urban areas, where personal space is in particularly short supply; this concept car offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date. It intelligently coordinates this with technologies and digital services that appeal to all senses and provide a new experience level. The spacious automobile acts as a lounge on wheels and a mobile office, serving as a third living space during the time spent in traffic. (Story and photos courtesy of Audi)
Heart Aerospace establishes electric airplane industry in Sweden
Swedish electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace recently announced its goal to establish the world’s first commercial electric aircraft industry at Säve airport in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company claims to work at the cutting edge of technology while contributing toward a sustainable future. Its mission is to create the world’s greenest, most affordable, and most accessible transport. This mission is grounded in the outlook that electric air travel will become the new normal for regional flights and can be transformational in addressing the industry’s key sustainability challenges.
Heart Aerospace will build sustainable state-of-the-art offices and production and flight test facilities which will form a new campus that will go by the name Northern Runway.
Heart Aerospace’s Northern Runway campus will form part of the Castellum-owned development area Gateway Säve, where a unique site for sustainable logistics and electric mobility is being developed.
Heart Aerospace currently employs 130 people, but the company expects to employ around 500 people by 2025. The long-term recruitment base in Gothenburg is vital due to its proximity to the Chalmers University of Technology, ranked among the top 100 in the world in graduate employability. A first phase in the establishment of Heart Aerospace’s Northern Runway is scheduled to be finalized by mid-2024, with test flights scheduled to start in 2026.
One of Heart Aerospace’s brilliant inventions is the ES-30. This all-electric aircraft has comfortable three-abreast flat-floor cabin seating, a galley, and a lavatory. Cabin stowage and overhead bins will add to the sizeable external baggage and cargo compartment and provide airlines with network flexibility. The ES-30 has a 30-passenger capacity, and replaces the company’s earlier 19-seat design, the ES-19. Its electric motors are powered by batteries, allowing the airplane to operate with zero emissions and low noise. The airplane will also include a reserve-hybrid configuration, consisting of two turbo generators powered by sustainable aviation fuel. Heart Aerospace expects to deliver its first ES-30 aircraft in 2028. (Story and photos courtesy of Heart Aerospace)
Cathay Pacific Cargo introduces carbon-offset program for air freight
Cathay Pacific is taking the lead in aviation’s sustainability efforts in Asia with the extension of “Fly Greener” to its air cargo services. An integrated carbon emissions calculator powers this carbon-offset program as part of the airline’s commitment to tackling climate change by achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
According to the airline company. the new carbon emissions calculator works out the carbon emissions of shipments and the cost to offset them in just a couple of simple steps. Customers can then contribute to purchasing carbon offsets from carefully selected carbon offset projects. All selected projects are certified under the Gold Standard to ensure their carbon reductions are verified and come with societal and developmental benefits.
The carbon-offset program follows the launch earlier this year of Cathay Pacific’s Corporate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Program, which brings SAF into Hong Kong International Airport for the first time in history. It allows corporate customers to reduce their carbon footprint from business travel and air cargo shipments by contributing to the use of SAF. Cathay Pacific was also among the first carriers in the world to announce a target of 10% SAF in its total fuel use by 2030.
Customers have already been able to estimate their potential carbon emissions by searching for flight connections with the emission calculator on cathaypacificcargo.com, but now registered customers using the website will be able to offset their shipments by air waybill (AWB) number. Users can enter five AWB numbers at a time but submit as many applications as required monthly. The tool, which uses the latest IATA methodology, will show the volume of emissions and display the offset charge in local currency, calculated by weight and aircraft type.
After each submission, Cathay will send customers a spreadsheet showing the totals carried and claimed, plus the carbon-offset calculation. They will also receive a monthly statement displaying all submissions from the previous month and the sum to be settled. Customers will then receive a certificate showing the offset total and the project they have supported for their sustainability auditing processes. The monetary contributions go directly to fund third-party validated projects that help to offset the CO2 generated by shipments through carbon credits bought by Cathay Pacific and passed on to customers at cost. The airline makes no profit in the carbon-offset transactions. The scheme currently supports four projects which bring fuel-efficient cooking stoves to families in Bangladesh, solar-powered hot water to households in India, and solar-powered cooking stoves and small biogas plants to families in the Chinese Mainland. (Story and photos courtesy of Cathay Pacific)