Study published on climate impact of combustion vs electric aircraft

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden present the first life cycle analysis for an existing two-seater electric aircraft compared to the combustion version. The subject of the study is the Pipistrel Alpha Electro.

Image: Chalmers University of Technology

The Pipistrel Alpha Electro is an obvious choice, as the same aircraft is also available as a fossil-fueled model. This enables the researchers to make a direct comparison. In their comparison, the team from the Swedish university examined the entire impact from the extraction of raw materials to the end of the aircraft’s life.

The result: the climate impact of the electric aircraft is already lower than that of the combustion engine version after a quarter of the expected service life, provided that green electricity is used. After around 1,000 flight hours (a quarter of the estimated service life of at least 4,000 hours), the electric aircraft overtakes the fossil-fuel version in terms of lower climate impact.

“The key take-home from this study is that small electric aircraft can have a notably lower climate impact – up to 60 percent less – and other types of environmental impacts than equivalent fossil-fuelled aircraft. However, there is a trade-off regarding mineral resource scarcity – about 50 percent more even in the most favourable scenario, mainly due to rare metals in the batteries of the electric aircraft,” says Rickard Arvidsson, the lead author of the study.

However, the service life of lithium-ion batteries would have to be about twice as long for the shortage of raw materials to be roughly the same for electric aircraft and fossil-fuel aircraft. “Alternatively, have double the energy storage capacity such that only one of two packs are needed onboard for the same flight time,” adds Anders Nordelöf, one of the other authors of the study.


about „Study published on climate impact of combustion vs electric aircraft“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *