Ian Poll is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Cranfield university in England, and is the head of technology research for the Omega project, a government funded project dealing with the effects of fossil fuels on the environment. Professor Poll says that tests already conducted during the cold war have proven that nuclear technology can be used to power aircraft later in this century.
The professor says that “If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of air travel without hindrance from environmental concerns, we need to explore nuclear power. If aviation remains wedded to fossil fuels, it will run into serious trouble.” Because nuclear energy has been demonized there is a lot of resistance to using it to solve our energy needs. The truth is nuclear power has been used safely in military ships like aircraft carriers and submarines for many years now without serious danger to the environment or sailors on these craft.
In another effort Professor Poll will also present research results into measures to improve the efficiency over the next decade of short-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320. He says that the replacements for these aircraft are likely to fly more slowly using open-rotor engines that would use about 20% less fuel but which would add 10 minutes to a typical flight within Europe and would be much noiseier than current jet engines.
Given the growing population in the world and the rise of economies in countries like China the need for air travel will continue to grow throughout this century and well into the future. A solution to fossil fuels remains a top priority for mankind if we are to continue economic growth throughout the world.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.