Renewable Jet Fuels Viability in Commercial Flights
Renewable jet fuels changed in 2016 when regular flight operations of United Airlines started using RjF. This marked the beginning of commercial-scale usage of the alternate jet fuel by aviation industry. As of today the commercial viability has been achieved for renewable jet fuels through demonstration of techno-economic feasibility for production path-ways (processes) namely HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids) technology and FT (Fischer-Tropsch) technology.
Next in the line is DSHC (Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbons) which is currently undergoing pilot projects for demonstration of its viability. Similarly, development work is under way for renewable jet fuels production through other technologies like HDCJ (Hydro-treated De-polymerized Cellulosic Jet), ATJ (Alcohol to Jet) and APR (Aqueous Phase Reforming).
Renewable Jet Fuels Development
Such development projects are now receiving funds from the governments and additional support may be forthcoming in the form of government incentives regarding tax breaks and mandatory use obligations) essentially required for reducing the production-cost-differential of renewable jet fuels and petroleum jet fuel for commercial aviation and aerospace by the EPA has established procedures for analyzing submitted petitions for life cycle GHG emissions associated with new fuel pathways.
Specifications for jet fuels are defined under ASTM D1655 and they mainly focus on performance properties like heat content (BTUs per lb), combustion properties, freezing point, viscosity, thermal stability, material compatibility and related safety hazards.
For standardizing purposes ASTM D7566 is the standard for certification of Synthetic Fuels, which also include renewable jet fuels, in consultation with ASTM D4054 for guidance related to testing as jet fuel alternative RJF. The drop-in RJF need to be additionally certified for equivalence in specification to jet fuels under the ASTM D1655 for direct mixing in aircrafts with being separately tracked for approval.
RJF is now available as a “drop-in” alternate fuel with performance and safety specifications equivalent to petroleum jet fuels. As such, RJF use does not require any modification in jet engines and this provides an opportunity window for the aviation industry to contribute towards reducing emission of greenhouse gases.
After proving its technical viability, the remaining major obstacle for viability of renewable jet fuels is related to production and consumption “scale-up”. This is expected to be overcome soon as commercial airlines start making medium to long-term fuel supply contracts with commercial producers of renewable jet fuels.
Commercial use of RJF will also get a boast as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed global market based measures (GMBM):
“Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation (i.e. civil aviation flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country) above the 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities.”
Investments in Renewable Jet Fuels
Blending is another area where RJF power generation producers are actively engaged with RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels) for certifying blended fuels which are a mix of petroleum fuel and biofuels from special crops grown for the purpose. In South Africa Sunchem’s nicotine-free tobacco plant Solaris is an example of producing RJF through blending of biofuels with petroleum Jet-A fuel.
Such efforts will standardize the production and use of blended RJF while ensuring economic, environmental and social concerns of the society. The biofuel industry is targeting to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions over the life-cycle through use of blended RJF in a ratio of 30% biofuel mixed with 70% of petroleum fuel.
An innovative approach to achieve the economy of scale and to reduce the financial costs in production of RJF is manifested by equity investment by United Airlines and Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific in Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc., Nevada, California.
Both the airlines, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, in addition to equity investment have long term renewable jet fuels RJF supply contracts with Fulcrum BioEnergy. The Nevada based production facility having a capacity to produce 11 million gallons of fuel is expected to be operational in 2018. It is evident that aviation industry is gearing itself to implement the GMBM by the year 2020 for which renewable jet fuels is the light on the horizon.
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Ai Impacts Aerospace Power Management Systems
Ai impacts aerospace power management in the way it can collect data and make decisions on conversion, generation, and distribution. In our modern technological society, controlling the flow of electricity is necessary to powering buildings, maintaining efficient computer systems, and providing energy to vehicle accessories. And it is critical to operating systems on airplanes and spacecraft. Engineers are turning to efficient design to conserve and control power by looking to how Ai impacts aerospace power management systems for smart solutions.
Perhaps the best example of this quest for improved aerospace technology through Ai is being done at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2015, The Boeing Company joined with the university to establish the Boeing/Carnegie Mellon Aerospace Data Analytics Lab. Boeing’s CIO called it “a unique aerospace partnership”. And the company sank $7.5 million into the project.
Boeing Lab studies how Ai impacts Aerospace Power Management
“The goal is to find ways to use artificial intelligence and big data to capitalize on the enormous amount of data generated in the design, construction and operation of modern aircraft,” according to a Carnegie Mellon news release. The author Byron Spice writes that aircraft are constantly generating data. He calls aeronautics “one of the most data-intensive industries”.
In coverage of this partnership, Wired Magazine proclaimed: “And now, Ai invades the skies.” James Carbonell, project leader and a computer scientist at the university, sees great promise in this endeavor. “We’re working to develop algorithms that can process all that, understand it, and create a unified way of analyzing information,” he said.
The implementation of Ai impacts aerospace power management systems on airplanes and space ships extends to all areas and subsystems. Just as car makers have entrusted much of the decision-making to onboard computers, the aerospace industry is installing smart technology into air and space vehicles. In fact, the European Space Agency (ESA) is developing space applications for the same Controller Area Network (CAN) technology being used in automobiles. In the ESA paper “Artificial Intelligence for Space Applications”, the authors identify the subsystems of a spacecraft, all of which may be guided by Ai:
Where Ai Impacts Aerospace Power Management
- attitude determination and control
- telemetry tracking and command
- command and data handling
- thermal structures and mechanisms
- guidance and navigation
Load Shedding and Ai
So, what can artificial intelligence do to improve the power subsystem, both in planes and spacecraft? Perhaps the most important task in learning how Ai impacts aerospace powermanagement is making sure you’ve got enough to get home safely. And to do that, sometimes you must turn off everything except the most critical of systems. In aviation — as well as in the electric power industry — that process is called “load shedding”.
That’s how NASA brought the Apollo 13 crew home. Smart people used intelligent methods to limit the power consumption in the spacecraft to direct energy to where it was most needed. Many people credit the contracting firm Kepner-Tregoe and their problem analysis method for saving the astronauts. And who hasn’t seen the movie “Apollo 13” directed by Ron Howard? In dramatic fashion, astronauts in a mock lunar module simulated actions required to control the use of onboard power.
What if a computer system could make all those calculations and decisions for you? That’s the principle behind AI-based load shedding. One aviation blog defines load shedding as “reducing demands on the aircraft’s electrical system when part of that system fails”. The author gives us three principles that apply to the process (which he believes will also work in load shedding our personal workload):
- Know when to load-shed
- Know what to load-shed
- Know how to load-shed
The journal Air Facts says that using AI in the cockpit is nothing new. “In fact,” writes author John Zimmerman, “many pilots have been flying with very primitive forms of Ai for years, even if they didn’t realize it: autopilots, FADEC, and load-shedding electrical systems all use computer power to make intelligent decisions.”
Smart controllers/ smart software
Making aircraft and spacecraft smarter requires advancements in both hardware and software. Just as innovations in drones and unmanned vehicles are making strides, innovations for manned and unmanned aircraft continue to get show promise.
A power controller from Data Device Corp offers smart system management. A company spokesman says, “DDC’s new high-power density SSPC offers a reliable and efficient solution, optimized for aircraft mission systems that can benefit from the functionality provided by smart aerospace power management,”
Space News writer Debra Warner tells how NASA is putting artificial intelligence into everything. In the article ”Beyond HAL: How artificial intelligence is changing space systems”, she quotes NASA scientist Kelly Fong: “Work we are doing today focuses not so much on general intelligence but on trying to allow systems to be more independent, more self-reliant, more autonomous.”
Current Ai impact on aerospace power management systems may not be as smart as the HAL 9000 unit in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the smart software being developed and used today is still capable of predictive analytics that could help prevent future disasters like those experienced in the Apollo and Challenger space programs.
Of course, how AI impacts aerospace power management systems in other ways besides load shedding. Just as the electric smart grid keeps the lights on, intelligent power systems on planes and space ships can keep pilots, astronauts, and passengers moving toward the completion of their journey. Whether it’s improved power distribution, error control, load shedding, or guarding against disaster, artificial intelligence shows great promise for continued advancement in aerospace system control. It seems that we are just getting started.
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Long Range Commercial Drone Control in 5G Wireless Technology
In regards to long range commercial drone control, according to wireless technology company Qualcomm, “5G connectivity will enable a worldwide boom in drone use, for fun, research, and business.” But for now, U.S. drone activity is limited to line-of-sight control. Regulations will need to catch up to the fast-developing technology.to enable the future of long range commercial drone control.
“A Highway in the Sky”
Research on the control of drones parallels work being done on autonomous vehicle technology. Dr. Harita Joshi of the University of Warwick spoke to Telecom TV about the development of ultra-reliable and low latency 5G networks that would allow for accurate communication with self-driving cars. Others are talking about “self-flying aircraft”.
China Mobile used the term “flying automotive” when referring to the 5G drone network they were testing with Ericsson in 2016. Achieving end-to-end latency of 15 milliseconds, their 5G drone was able to make handovers between towers shared with normal cell phone users.Commercial long range drone control is in deep development. Take Alphabet (aka Google) who’s been working on ways to deliver mobile connectivity from the air. In 2014 they bought Titan Aerospace and turned it into Project Skybender. The aim was to launch a fleet of lightweight, solar-powered drones that would fly in the upper atmosphere for up to 90 days at a time. Alphabet abandoned Skybender in 2016, preferring to concentrate on the use of balloons through their Project Loon. Another venture in long range drone control is Qualcomm, who want their unmanned aerial system (UAS) to be autonomous through development of UAS Traffic Management (UTM) controls. Director of Marketing Maged Zaki blogged about the “Path to 5G: Building a highway in the sky for autonomous drones”. “When UTM systems are deployed, we envision fleets of drones flying missions autonomously while connected to operators and regulators.”
The Goals in Reaching Long Range Commercial Drone Control
No one wants to worry about drones falling from the sky. The FAA in the U.S. has restricted drone usage to Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). However, in 2016 the FAA granted an Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) operations waiver to commercial drone company Precision Hawk.
But for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) control of drones, operators need something more for long range commercial drone control. “Many of the anticipated benefits of drones, including delivery, inspections and search-and-rescue will require a highly secure and reliable connection,” said Qualcomm’s Chris Penrose, senior vice president, IoT Solutions, AT&T, according to a press release.
Dr. Joshi underscored in her interview the problem of latency and the need to service vehicles traveling at high speeds. The ITU published “IMT Vision”, a paper about 5G, in which they addressed these issues: IMT-2020 would be able to provide 1 ms over-the-air latency, capable of supporting services with very low latency requirements. IMT-2020 is also expected to enable high mobility up to 500 km/h with acceptable QoS.
To achieve the goals of long range commercial drone control, researchers are experimenting with a range of bandwidth called millimeter-wave radio. The new band spans from 30 to 300 gigahertz. Way back in 1895 the polymath Jagadish Chandra Bose was experimenting in this spectrum. An August 2014 article in IEEE Spectrum tells the story: The intrepid scientist “sent a 60-GHz signal through three walls and the body of the region’s lieutenant governor to a funnel-shaped horn antenna and detector 23 meters away. As proof of its journey, the message triggered a simple contraption that rang a bell, fired a gun, and exploded a small mine.”
Despite the early research, attempts at harnessing millimeter-wave frequencies turned out to be extremely expensive and infeasible. The spectrum propagated poorly between towers and was scattered by rain. “The huge advantage of millimeter wave is access to new spectrum because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded,” says Jacques Rudell of the University of Washington. The Guardian writer Mark Harris wrote about it when he broke the story “Project Skybender: Google’s secretive 5G internet drone tests revealed” in 2016. Despite Skybender’s demise, plans to harness millimeter-wave technology continue.
Bold Long Range Commercial Drone Control Projections
Hobbyists have taken to drones as a new tech toy, but other use cases will contribute to the drone boom. Companies like Alphabet hope to deliver internet to remote and under-served areas. Drones are useful in disaster recovery, search-and-rescue, and hazardous material situations. Amazon has already done long-range test deliveries. Pizza delivery by drone is not far away. And drone racing – like the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships in Hawaii – is a growing sport.
AT&T Foundry offered “10 Bold Projections on the Future of Drones”. These include swarming technology, onboard analytics, IoT support, AI and robotics, and the use of drones for dynamic communications networks. Whatever commercial applications await drone technology, it’s clear that they will be dependent on secure, fast, and reliable communications. 5G technology will likely play a significant role in the evolution of long range drone control.
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IFEC Profit Margins – In-flight Entertainment for Airlines
IFEC profit margins for business jets and commercial airlines is of vital importance. In the not too distant past, airlines depended on essentially the same technology for IFEC, aka In-Flight Entertainment Connectivity, as in most any movie theater.
A film was shot directly onto a screen using a projector, and customers could listen to the film via proprietary headsets or listen through in-cabin speakers. For many passengers, this was not an ideal situation.
This has changed and changed drastically in a very positive way for all parties involved. The main reason for going to this new system is the same as any reason a business makes changes – to increase IFEC profit margins and satisfy shareholders. It all comes down to weight on the plane. Weight is a major issue on flights. Some airlines have removed the seat back screens from their airlines, cutting weight by 1,200 lbs. A lighter plane means less fuel; less fuel means a better profit.
People have not seemed to mind this change for IFEC. The main reason is the advent of newer and newer technologies as gone are the bulky, heavy laptops of old (remember that weight issue) requiring lots of storage space. Touchpads, smartphones, and the like have changed computing in a way like Bill Gates did with Windows 3.1. Research already points to handheld devices reaching over 2 billion this year based on previous information from 2014.
Weight is Equal to IFEC Profit Margins
This is a welcome change for airlines, where again, weight is equal to profits. IFEC has certainly gone through its own growing pains from silent films to bulky 8mm, grainy machines to DVD’s and projectors. Along the way, passengers have been kept happy, entertained, and not as concerned about long delays, waits and unforeseen circumstances that kept a plane grounded for an indeterminate amount of time.
Jump forward several years, and now we have streaming video, movies and more coming in over wireless and data from cellular providers. For the airline industry, this is an absolute goldmine in IFEC profit margins. Gone will be the days of the same film showing for all passengers, young and old. Finding a movie suitable to keep all passengers entertained for a flight can be virtually impossible. Instead, passengers will be able to use personal devices to log into the plane’s on-board wi-fi system. Watching personal devices for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube is obviously a preferred method of IFEC over a single, one-size-must-fit-all movie.
Power of Choice will Increase IFEC Profit Margins
A customer, or in this case a passenger, who has some degree of choice in a situation is likely to be much happier and willing to accept certain situations and possible additional fees for the trade-off of continued in-flight entertainment. Families traveling with young children certainly understand the value and power of a portable DVD or gaming system to entertain, and adults benefit just as much when left in a similar situation. In other words, on a plane, everyone is a child wanting to know, “Are we there yet?”
The early Internet was certainly filled with its share of mistakes, drops and vicious lag that kept most everyone more annoyed than anything. Companies who provided Internet needed vast storage often kept at temperatures where a jacket or coat would be necessary due to the enormous amounts of heat generated by the systems. Today is a completely different story. Adding a server and the wiring for a completely wireless system in an airplane is almost no different from wiring a new business and networking computers and printers. The chief difference is the use of the Internet for pleasure over business, but one can realistically expect business to be happening as well during flights with free Internet as essential for IFEC profit margins.
While many would like to think of the wireless as free, nothing is free. Passengers interested in using the on-board wireless may have to listen to the occasional commercial interruption or pause during their movies or videos, but it is a small price to pay for the absolute convenience this offers. Consider this: many of the YouTube channels that are run by commercial entities often preview their own videos with a brief commercial often about their own product. An airline would do quite well with this content marketing strategy, particularly when they have a captive audience of sorts.
Future of IFEC Profit Margins
There is and will be plenty of room to grow from this point with IFEC profit margins. Commercial lines still must balance their customer needs and wants with shareholder expectations and desires. Wireless connectivity and IFEC on an airplane, however, is quickly advancing like the ideal window seat.
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