How Green is Green Enough: Aerospace and the Environment
The recent initiatives in aerospace industry like zero-fuel aircrafts, advanced space propulsion technologies, structural health monitoring, use of advanced raw materials for aircrafts and their parts etc have one resoundingly common trait, all of these changes account environment as an important factor and cater to it.
The aerospace industry makes extensive use of fossil fuels (non-renewable, polluting and moderately efficient) as energy sources and uses up a lot of water during various processes. Moreover, the general waste produced is also in high percentage.
There have been appreciable efforts at employing lean processes in this sector, by introducing better and advanced materials like graphene to reduce the amount of raw material needed, by introducing more productive machine capable of multi-dimensional production and by introducing less water intensive chemicals.
However, material success has been achieved only recently and on experimental basis only. Efforts to employ these efficient and green methods on the assembly floor are yet underway.
Initiatives like using eco-friendly and renewable energy sources, for example: geothermal energy, nuclear power, solar energy, wind energy etc should replace the non-renewable energy sources. Less water intensive processes should be employed to save as much water as possible. Lean processes which make judicious use of waste in other process or processes in other industries if possible, will also contribute immensely towards making the industry greener as waste management issue is resolved.
In one sentence, Aerospace Industry might not be the perfect model for a green industry but it sure is on its way.