A rendering of Airbus’ hydrogen-powered concept planes. The company is aiming to develop a zero-emissions plane that could enter commercial service by 2035. Environmentally conscious travelers are in a quandary. Global airline travel has grown over the decades, and with it, so have the industry’s carbon emissions. Not everyone has the time to use more eco-friendly travel methods, like Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s famous two-week voyage last year across the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-emissions sailboat. But can the airline industry shrink its carbon footprint, which currently makes up 3% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions? The answer hinges on development of alternative fuels. Last month, European aircraft maker Airbus announced it would evaluate three concept planes, each of which would be primarily powered by hydrogen. The goal is to figure out an aircraft design and manufacturing process so the hydrogen plane could potentially enter commercial service by 2035. “Alternative fuels are the key to unlocking air transportation emissions,” said Megan Ryerson, the University of Pennsylvania’s UPS chair of transportation and an associate professor of city and regional planning and electrical and systems engineering. “Without them, we either have to stop flying or make drastic cuts in other […]

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