Leaded Gas for Cars Impossible to Buy Globally

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After decades of effort by environmentalists leaded gasoline for use in automobiles is impossible to buy anywhere on the planet. Last month Algeria ended sales for leaded gasoline which marked the end of the dangerous fuel for consumers according to the UN Environment Programme. All gas burning is bad for people and the planet, but leaded gasoline use was the worst.

The next step in getting rid of leaded gasoline is to ban it’s use in airplanes.

Petroleum containing tetraethyllead, a form of lead, was first sold almost 100 years ago to increase engine performance. It was widely used for decades until researchers discovered that it could cause heart disease, strokes and brain damage.

UNEP cited studies suggesting that leaded gas caused measurable intellectual impairment in children and millions of premature deaths.

Most rich nations started phasing out the fuel in the 1980s, but it was still widely used in low- and middle-income countries until 2002, when the UN launched a global campaign to abolish it.

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France Banning Short Flights to Reduce Carbon Output

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Flying isn’t so popular right now due to the pandemic and many airlines are financially hurting, and in France they are helping the Air France. Due to ineffectiveness in the private company the French government stepped in and doubled it’s stake with one key condition: the airline eliminates some of its routes. Short flights of 2.5 hours or less will no longer be permitted in France as the carbon output of one of those flights is 77 times that of a train. Train service in the country is good, but with the additional passenger load the service will improve with expansion.

Given how horrible plane travel is for the environment all of use should be grateful for France leading the way on this smart transportation policy.

The measures could affect travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux.

The French government had faced calls to introduce even stricter rules.

France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, which was created by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 members of the public, had proposed scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed.

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NASA’s All Electric Airplane Looks Neat

NASA loves researching and their newest aviation project is no exception. The X-57 plane is an all-electric propeller driven design to test and demonstrate that such a plane can exist. They also went a step further by testing new engines and arrangement of them on the wing to try and create the most effect short range plane possible with current technology. Without a doubt it has been a success! Their plane currently has 500% design efficiency over comparable aircraft on the market, these design solutions can be applied to the next generation of airplanes.

According to the space agency, this final configuration with its bespoke skinny wings will boost efficiency by reducing drag in flight. Propulsion for takeoff and landing is provided by the 12 high-lift electric motors on the leading edge of the wing that allow the X-57 to reach cruising altitude. Then the two wingtip propellers take over as the smaller motors deactivate and their propellor blades fold into the nacelles to reduce drag. For landing, the motors reactivate and centrifugal force opens the blades again.

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Let’s Use Airships Instead of Airplanes

Travelling via airplane is safe for you as an individual, but collectively all of using planes is unsafe. At ground level the emissions from airplanes are bad and are even more damaging when released high in the atmosphere (where you know, planes fly). If we’re going to survive the climate crisis then we’ll need to all reduce our use of modern airplanes.

Let’s use airships instead. More commonly known as blimps, these large airborne vessels can transport cargo more efficiently than boats or planes, they are just lacking the airport infrastructure. Lockheed Martin has recently found a way to make them more efficient and is proposing airships as a new way for luxury travel.

A paper in the journal Energy Conservation and Management published in September posits that just one airship could move 21,000 tons of stuff using almost no energy at all if we used airships to harness the free winds of the jet stream, the narrow band of fast-moving air above the troposphere, where planes fly. These winds, which average 100 miles per hour and can be as speedy as 250 mph, could propel an airship from Denver to China in about seven days or from Los Angeles to Tokyo in four, says Julian David Hunt, of Austria’s International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis and the paper’s first author.

These lower-flying vehicles, known as hybrids, are likely what we’ll see in the nearer future. Aerospace company Lockheed Martin’s hybrid prototype sports three cartoonish bubbles up front to help with navigation and engines to assist with maneuverability. The company’s hybrid design uses 20% aerodynamic lift — a lightly fuel-powered boost for a bit of a “plane-like effect” — and helium for the remaining 80% buoyant lift, Boyd says. The end result uses significantly less fuel than a plane and can access many areas other vehicles can’t.

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NASA Designs Plane Modifications to Save Fuel

A seemingly simple change to airplane design can make a huge difference in fuel efficiency: add another engine. Yes, as counterintuitive as it sounds, NASA has figured out that by adding an engine to the rear of the plane the airflow of the plane itself can provide more thrust. Airplanes are notoriously bad for the environment and any efficiency in fuel consumption has a significant impact on emissions.

NASA’s idea is pretty straightforward: place a large turbofan engine on the rear of a plane, where it will collect the slow-moving air traveling along the plane’s body. This lets the wing-mounted turbofans be built smaller, which means less drag and a higher fuel efficiency.

That by itself would mean a minor improvement to fuel use, but NASA decided to go a step further. The engineers also added generators to the wing-mounted turbofans, and the electricity generated by these engines is used to power the tail-mounted one. This means that the rear turbofan that provides much of the plane’s thrust doesn’t require any fuel to operate.

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