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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Clouds in a blue sky

Researchers from CEB will play a key role in the Aviation Impact Accelerator, an international group of experts in aerospace, economics, policy, and climate science, who are developing an interactive evidence-based simulator that explores scenarios for achieving net zero flight.

Led by the Department of Engineering’s Whittle Laboratory and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), the AIA includes a team of multidisciplinary experts from across the University, including CEB academics from our Energy Reactions and Carriers group, led by Ewa Marek, and our Colloidal Dispersions group, led by Alex Routh.

The AIA is in partnership with HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, The World Economic Forum, Cambridge Zero, MathWorks, and SATAVIA, and is supported by industry advisors Rolls-Royce, Boeing, BP, Heathrow, and Siemens Energy. It will be launched officially at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021.

The simulator will capture the whole aviation sector, from the sources of renewable electricity and raw materials, to the production and transport of fuel, and the introduction of new aircraft technologies and operations. Leaders in industry and government will gain an understanding of the potential for change and the trade-offs between decisions. The hope is that the simulator will guide innovation, investment, and policy action, as well as providing wider educational benefits to the public.

“The aviation impact accelerator is a really exciting novel project, looking at multiple options including fuel type, aircraft design, operation and layout as well as personal choices,” says Professor Routh. “The CEB contribution to the project has been concentrated in the fuels team. It started in the summer of 2020 with six incredibly talented students producing estimates of the cost, CO2 impact as well as land and resource use to make different types of fuels. 

“This summer the work has been continued by two of the students who have now graduated, George Fulham and Mark Turner. The estimates for different fuels are fed into a simulator so that the cost, CO2 output as well as other pollutants such as NOx for any flight using any fuel and route can be estimated.

“The next steps are to use this model in a global network analysis to examine the total impact for various choices of fuel type and operations. The aim is to guide the choice of infrastructure development to allow a global solution for aviation decarbonization.”

Read more about the project on the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership website and the Department of Engineering website.
 

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