EPA Makes Plans to Curb Plane Emissions

The Obama Administration has initiated talks on restricting the aerospace industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, stating that it might take some time before exact regulations take effect.

According to the EPA, like the automobile industry and power plants, airplanes also negatively impact human health; thus, restrictions are necessary. Creating the regulations will take some time — nothing will be enacted while Obama is in office, and will be the next president’s responsibility.

The EPA is waiting for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is tasked with creating international aviation regulations, to develop worldwide carbon emission rules. The deadline is February 2016; ICAO members are obligated to enact international regulations approved by the agency. The EPA is collaborating with multiple international agencies, like the ICAO, to create aerospace regulations.

Environmentalists would like the EPA to issue their rules before February 2016 because they worry that the ICAO — an agency that works with both the EPA and airline industry — will be biased and present lenient restrictions. Environmental groups want the US to lead the way.

Per the Flying Clean campaign, flights in and out of the US constitute almost one-third of the world’s airplane emissions; airline emissions will likely double by the end of 2020 if nothing is done soon.

Of course, Republicans have their issues with Obama cutting airplane emissions, specifying that airfare prices will skyrocket and hurt domestic air travel. Airline companies agree, explaining that they have already done so much to curb emissions, including using fuel alternatives, enhancing aerodynamics, and using lighter inflight materials. As reported by the International Air Transport Association, decreasing an airplane’s weight by 5.5 pounds is equivalent to a one-ton cut in yearly carbon emissions.

But the aviation industry continues to grow: more and more people are flying each year. Although air flights only comprise 2 percent of worldwide emissions, it’s projected that by 2020, international flights can reach 70 percent above 2005 numbers, regardless of whether fuel efficiency is advanced by an annual 2 percent.

To combat this, in the past, the EU tried to enact the Emissions Trading System, which was subsequently banned by the US, China, and other countries. With the support of both Democrats and Republicans, Obama even passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, which banned American airlines from partaking in the EU’s system.

Airlines have pledged to limit their emissions by 2 percent every year until 2020, when emission growth will cap. The ultimate goal is for the aerospace industry’s emissions to be at half 2005′s numbers by 2050.

At this point, using newly-made airplanes that have better fuel economies are our best bet. Boeing has introduced its new 787 Dreamliner and Airbus has introduced the A350, both of which are more fuel efficient but not in wide use just yet.

(From New York Times)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

June 16, 2015

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Titanium Sponge Plant to be Built in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia-based Royal Commission in Yanbu — an independent organization from the government — is currently building a factory to create titanium sponge. The current plant will undergo a technological upgrade, and will be outfitted with high-pressure oxidation equipment in order to generate titanium dioxide.

The plant is slated to finish and begin producing titanium sponge by 2017. It is anticipated that the output of the new plant and the retrofitted plant will be 15,600 metric tons of titanium sponge annually, and 120 thousand tons of titanium dioxide yearly.

Titanium sponge is a rock-life formation of titanium that is produced during the initial stage of titanium processing. It’s used across many industries, such as the aerospace, telephone, and jewelry industries.

Japanese company Toho is also getting a cut of the action: Toho will move forward with RCY and Saudi company Tasnee to create a project aimed at producing titanium sponge as well. Tasnee and Tasnee-owned company Cristal will each own 32.5 percent of the new Crystal Complex project, while Toho will own 35 perfect.

Saudi Arabia’s influence in oil wanes as natural gas has reached soaring heights in the US. It seems to counter their oil collapse, as Saudi Arabia is looking to widen its berth in the metals industry.

Just recently, Saudi Arabia commissioned the operation of world’s largest aluminum complex, from bauxite to finished products. Like aluminum, production of other light metals, like titanium and magnesium, are very energy intensive, a major cost factor. They have taken action in both aluminum and titanium. The next logical step for them will be delve in the production of magnesium.

Saudi Arabia already has a significant investment, presence, and operation in the chemical industry using oil-based feedstock.

China now is the major global producer of all the light metals: aluminum, titanium, and magnesium. The country uses very uneconomical energy inputs, using cheap and abundant energy resources. With this new venture, Saudi Arabia can challenge China in the production of world-hungry light metals.

(From Arab News)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 30, 2015

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“New Titanium-Making Process Could Result in Lighter Aircraft” – MIT Technology Review, 26 February 2015

The aerospace industry has begun to employ more titanium in the production of aircraft parts, including engine components and fan blades. The lighter metal is invulnerable to corrosion, permits less fuel usage, and is adaptable to carbon composite materials, which can be found in many new aircrafts. Aluminum has typically been used in aircraft manufacturing, however the material conflicts with carbon composites.

Now, New Jersey-based SRI International has developed a new process for manufacturing titanium that is far less costly and uses far less energy than typical means. In addition to the aerospace industry, this new method could also be used for automobile parts, which can also better fuel economies.

SRI International’s technique generates a powder form of titanium, rather than bars. The powder can then be shaped into the form of the products or parts needed, which also means less equipment is required.

SRI has produced a small amount of the titanium using its technique. The company is presently working toward honing its method so that the cost is more economical and more titanium can be made. Like most new metal extraction processes, this development is still far away from commercialization.

(From MIT Technology Review)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 26, 2015

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“A new alloy is as good as titanium at a tenth of the cost” – Business Insider, 8 February 2015

South Korea-based scientist Dr. Hansoo Kim and his associates at the Pohang University of Science and Technology have created a new alloy by reconfiguring steel by a few nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Though the manipulation occurs on the smallest of scales, it creates an alloy that is as durable and light as titanium alloys but more economical.

Steel is continuously on the decline; now that President Obama has mandated that car fuel economies double by 2025, the US automotive industry has been working with big-name aluminum companies like Novelis and Alcoa to manufacture car parts. The aerospace industry is also experiencing the same push towards aluminum, since steel — although inexpensive and sturdy — remains a heavier metal. The percentage of steel made parts in cars has dropped from 68.1 percent in 1995 to 60.1 percent in 2011. Now that Ford is working on its new generation of all-aluminum F-150s, you can imagine that those numbers have dropped even further.

Dr. Kim took it upon himself to create a new alloy that still uses steel, but also employs a few other lighter metals. The combination he discovered to be the best is iron, aluminum, carbon, steel, and nickel. Without nickel, Kim found the alloy too fragile; however, adding the nickel allows for a reaction to occur between the nickel and aluminum to make new nanometers that bind more efficiently with the steel. The crystals that the nickel create prevent the alloy from fracturing.

The new alloy uses a combination of relatively cheap materials, which means it can still be cheap to purchase on an industrial scale. Fueled by global innovations, it’s only a question of how long before light metals like aluminum, magnesium, and now titanium will start  dominating as the material of choice for automobile production.

(From Business Insider)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 8, 2015

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