Imperial College London

Professor Silvestre Pinho speaks in Parliament on Net Zero in aviation

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Houses of Parliament, Westminster

Professor Silvestre Pinto recently spoke about his Net Zero research in Parliament.

As the UK Government seeks to develop a roadmap in delivering a zero-carbon economy, field experts, including Aeronautics Professor Silvestre Pinho, were invited to present their most recent research findings in achieving net zero for road, rail, ports and aviation at the recent Net Zero All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

Silvestre’s work looks at developing numerical methods to facilitate innovative aircraft designs and concepts we need in order to obtain Net Zero. This work allows for a new adaptive multi scale modelling framework that is suitable for very large structures.

The long-term vision in meeting Net Zero for aviation will require developments in design methodologies as well as focus in other areas such as aircraft qualification and certification, carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuels, green energy production and distribution, airports, regulations, and demand management.

Imperial College and the Department of Aeronautics is ideally positioned to tackle these challenges, in particular via the new Brahmal Vasudevan Institute for Sustainable Aviation.

With a wider focal point, Silvestre has also been working with the NetZero APPG with the aim of improving understanding of the complex challenges with Net Zero in aviation and guiding corresponding government policies. 

Silvestre Pinho speaking in Parliament

The mission of the APPG is to “secure a low carbon and clean industrial and economic future for the UK; embed zero- carbon solutions and accelerate the UK’s commitment to delivering net zero growth and innovation and a net zero carbon economy.” Their work seeks to raise awareness and lobby the Government for future policies.

Their most recent meeting looked at questions around how industries can scale up Net Zero travel whilst keeping costs down, as well as what net zero transport looks like for consumers, if we can reach Net Zero without behaviour change and how global collaboration can be achieved across all modes of transport.

Aviation is set to consume 27% of the entire carbon budget, to have a decent chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C, by 2050 without a change in technology. The most vital change needed to make aviation sustainable is the use of hydrogen. Hydrogen-powered aircraft would be the most disruptive technology in commercial aviation since the jet engine.

The challenge with hydrogen is that this cannot be stored in the wing as is currently done with kerosene. Hydrogen provides less energy by volume than kerosene and and is not well-suited for being stored in the wings. Therefore, the transition to hydrogen requires fast configurations of current aircraft design.

There has been lots of activity on Net Zero for aviation in recent years, which has culminated in companies such as Airbus and ZeroAvia pledging to have a large zero-emissions aircraft flying by 2035.

Reporter

Ayesha Khan

Ayesha Khan
Department of Aeronautics

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