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  1. ITV Report

Aircraft engineers explore greener technologies for cleaner, quieter planes

  • Video report by ITV News Science Correspondent Alok Jha

Heathrow's proposed third runway could put pressure on Britain's commitment to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Aircraft emissions are the fastest-rising source of carbon dioxide and by 2050 could account for almost all of the nation's carbon output.

Engineers are therefore exploring different ways to adjust the environmental impacts of flight travel while keeping UK business interests on the move.

One of the places exploring new, greener technologies is the Rolls Royce production line in Derby.

The Trent turbine's bigger design moves the air slower and is more efficient. Credit: ITV News

Here, they currently finish making one gas turbine engine every day.

The most powerful, advanced design is the Trent XWB. It uses less fuel and, due to its size, moves the air slower making it quieter and more efficient.

But there is apparently a long way to go including the incorporation of more electric technologies.

Hybrid planes can use battery power to reduce fuel emissions. Credit: ITV News

An early glimpse at those technologies is a hybrid plane which can use up to a third less fuel than a standard aircraft engine.

But it still uses fossil fuels and fully electrical aircraft could be decades away. It will take around 30 to 40 years for batteries to be as powerful as jet fuel.

The design of this aircraft shields people underneath from the noise. Credit: ITV News

Another concept for a greener plane has been successfully tested in the USA and is an important early step towards cleaner, low-carbon travel.

Designed by Cambridge University and developed by Boeing and NASA, the blended wing body shape makes it more fuel efficient.

And the position of the engines shields people underneath from the noise.

Heathrow's third runway won't be in operation for at least a decade but engineers have to innovate no to mitigate carbon emissions, making planes of the future greener and quieter.