SUSTAINABLE FLYING

Potential for electric aircraft

Commercial aircraft rely on liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Short-range all-electric aircraft have promise to reduce environmental impacts while remaining cost-competitive; however, they will require significant battery improvements.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: The scaling challenge for all-electric aircraft.

References

  1. 1.

    Airbus Global Market Forecast 2017–2037 (Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Toulouse, 2017).

  2. 2.

    Boeing Current Market Outlook 2017–2036 (Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Seattle, 2017).

  3. 3.

    Schäfer, A. W., Evans, A. D., Reynolds, T. G. & Dray, L. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 412–417 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Schäfer, A. W. et al. Nat. Energy http://doi.org/czqx (2018).

  5. 5.

    Sripad, S. & Viswanathan, V. J. Electrochem. Soc. 164, E3635–E3646 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Sripad, S. & Viswanathan, V. ACS Energy Lett. 2, 1669–1673 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Fredericks, W. L., Sripad, S., Bower, G. C. & Viswanathan, V. ACS Energy Lett. 3, 2989–2994 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Gallagher, K. G. et al. Energy Environ. Sci. 7, 1555–1563 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Kerman, K., Luntz, A., Viswanathan, V., Chiang, Y. M. & Chen, Z. J. Electrochem. Soc. 164, A1731–A1744 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Knapp, B. M. & Kumar, A. A. System and methods for implementing regional air transit network using hybrid-electric aircraft. US Patent No. 9,561,860 (2017).

  11. 11.

    Hawkins, A. J. Bell’s hybrid-electric flying car will be available via Uber by the ‘mid-2020s’. The Verge (7 January 2019).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge S. Sripad for help with the graphics illustration.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Venkatasubramanian Viswanathan.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

V.V. is a technical consultant and a member of Advisory Board at Zunum Aero, and owns stock options. He is a technical consultant and owns stock options at QuantumScape. He is a consultant for Pratt & Whitney. His research group receives funding from Airbus A3, QuantumScape and Zunum Aero. B.M.K. is the co-founder and Aero Chief Engineer at Zunum Aero.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Viswanathan, V., Knapp, B.M. Potential for electric aircraft. Nat Sustain 2, 88–89 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0233-2

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing