The hybrid systems could save the airline from using approximately 50,000 tonnes of fuel a year.
Later this year easyJet hopes to trial new hybrid plane designs, which will save money and environment. As part of its strategy of reducing its passengers' carbon footprint they have unveiled plans for a revolutionary zero emissions hydrogen fuel system for its aircraft which could save around 50,000 tonnes of fuel and the associated CO2 emissions per year.
easyJet set new carbon reduction targets for 2020 which will see a reduction of 7% over the next five years compared to its emissions today, which are 81.05 grams CO2 per passenger kilometre. The inspiration has been taken from students at Cranfield University, a global leader in education and research in technology and management, who were asked to develop ideas for what air travel might look like in twenty years' time. It was a part of competition to celebrate easyJet's 20th birthday in November 2015.
the concept has been lead by easyJet's engineering director Ian Davies: "The hybrid plane concept we are announcing today is both a vision of the future and a challenge to our partners and suppliers to continue to push the boundaries towards reducing our carbon emissions."
The hi-tech fuel system will seek to harness the energy produced by an aircraft's brakes, which could then be used to power the plane while it is on the ground. As a waste product from the hydrogen cells water is produced. "Water would be so fresh that it could be recycled as drinking water for the airline's passengers, or used to flush plane toilets," said Davies.
And how will it works?
The hybrid plane concept utilises a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft's hold. This innovative zero-emissions system allows energy to be captured as the aircraft brakes on landing and is used to charge the system's lightweight batteries when the aircraft is on the ground (much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) found in Formula 1 cars).
The energy can then be used by the aircraft – for example when taxiing - without needing to use their jet engines. Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet's operations, around 4% of the airline's total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline's aircraft are taxiing. easyJet's aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of around four million miles a year – akin to travelling to the moon and back eight times.