4
$\begingroup$

From an environmental point of view would installation of windmills just before jet blast deflectors provide enough power to power up all machinery at airports? How much of a reduction in reliance on fossil fuel sources of energy would that be? By how much would that reduce landing fees and could the energy provided at least power a mechanism that could tow All aircraft (including the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747) during the entire taxi phase pre flight and post landing along with ALL airport machinery in busy airports like Heathrow

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Windmills are a pretty viable way of generating electricity, even without jets. But they tend to keep them away from airports, for safety reasons. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Sep 7 '17 at 13:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 this is an entertaining question which I think could be objectively 'back of napkin' estimated but it likely should be broken up into smaller parts. Also the part 'reliance on dirty sources of energy' will require a country since many have split their energy usages drastically depending on local politics and definitions of clean energy. $\endgroup$ – Bageletas Sep 7 '17 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @mins a system that uses both would even be much better $\endgroup$ – securitydude5 Sep 7 '17 at 13:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I fly a lot, and there are very few airports with jet blast deflectors, much less airplanes that power up near them. Usually they are only installed when roadways run near the end of runways, which isn't usually the case because of safety areas. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Sep 7 '17 at 14:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you put the windmill on top of the airplane, you could generate energy for the entire flight!! $\endgroup$ – RoboKaren Sep 8 '17 at 1:25
2
$\begingroup$

A windmill is a turbine, so it's better to build an optimized turbine. I've studied your idea and this draft design has come out:

enter image description here

The apparatus has these innovating characteristics:

  • Configurable for 2, 3 and 4 engine aircraft
  • Can be positioned exactly for optimal efficiency
  • Adjustable up or sideways for local constraints
  • Bird/snake anti-roasting protection (removable)
  • Simple and robust 50 or 60 Hz AC selection by adjusting engine thrust
  • Optional gas water extractor

For increased operation time, the apparatus can move with the airplane until a certain speed (configurable) is achieved (cable not included).

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You may want to draw a few arrows on that diagram to indicate the forces working on your contraption. It looks like the device will move away from the airplane, rather rapidly, instead of following it. And that's no wonder. The forward impulse from the airplane has to match the reverse impulse of the air. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Sep 8 '17 at 21:21
3
$\begingroup$

From an environmental point of view would installation of windmills just before jet blast deflectors provide enough power to power up all machinery at airports?

From an environmental point of view? Not sure what that has to do with providing power, but no, here's why: First, many airports do not have jet blast deflectors at the ends of runways or in a place that sees most of the jet blast.

Aside from that, windmills (wind turbines) can't spin at unlimited speed. Here's what happens one one goes too fast (small turbines have the same issue, but can stand wind speeds up to 100-ish mph). Turbines are designed such that they have an optimal output within some speed range, below that they don't generate much power, and above that they can get hot and fail, or have to be throttled back to stay in the power band.

So seeing as how you would need to have them close to the ground where they aren't useful for natural breeze, providing major power to the airport is not going to happen.

How much of a reduction in reliance on fossil fuel sources of energy would that be?

Why do you assume that the airport runs on fossil fuels? Many airports are running "green" initiatives, installing solar panels and bio-diesel reactors. They may also be purchasing renewable energy credits so that they try to get a good portion of the power used from renewable sources, such as wind farms.

By how much would that reduce landing fees and could the energy provided at least power a mechanism that could tow All aircraft (including the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747) during the entire taxi phase pre flight and post landing along with ALL airport machinery in busy airports like Heathrow

Such a tow system would almost undoubtedly increase landing fees. You are looking at it purely from a fuel savings view, but lets look at it from other angles:

  • Cost: There would be an extremely high acquisition cost, all the taxiways would have to be reworked to include this system. Even if it were an autonomous tow vehicles, the structure is not free. The tow's have to be created, programmed, vetted, certified, etc.
  • Maintenance: There is a lot of infrastructure to maintain, the tow vehicles, the electronic systems, mechanical systems, etc. This requires a full-time crew, and I'm sure they aren't going to work for free, plus enough on-hand spares to be able to quickly repair the system when it goes down.
  • Logistics: You have to have the tow mechanisms in place to catch the aircraft as they come off the runway. This means enough tow mechanisms to tow all aircraft and transit back to the runway possibly empty to catch another aircraft.
  • Other issues... Aircraft can't just shut down engines right after they land. Many engines have cool-down times before they can be shut down. They also can't just fire them up at the end of the runway, there are start-up times and warm-up periods. Aircraft also need to power systems on the way to the runway, air conditioning, avionics, hydraulics, etc.

Honestly these tow systems are not economically viable at this time. Aircraft are extremely fuel efficient (although not on the ground), but they have procedures to mitigate fuel expense on the ground. They shut down unused engines, turn off anything that isn't required, and reduce power consumption.

If you are looking for ways for the airport to save energy or generate it themselves, then solar panels or these tiles that generate electricity are more viable.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

An airport uses about 20 MW of electricity, on average. That is to say, averaged over 365 days, 24 hours a day. Your windmill will have a peak production of about 1MW. And that's for very short periods only. Pilots, if only for economic reasons, don't run engines at high power unless they actually want to move the plane. That means they operate close to your windmill for short periods only.

It's far more economical to put solar panels between all the runways and taxiways. There are large areas there where you can't put anything significantly above ground level, as wings will travel over this area. But as they're not intended to be driven on, these areas can have solar panels as long as they're anchored to the ground. Solar panels can put out 100MW per square kilometer during the day.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ far better to put those solar panels on the roofs... $\endgroup$ – jwenting Sep 11 '17 at 8:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.