Feeds

Research: Airliners can be more eco-friendly than trains

Flying cars bound to be greener than normal ones, surely

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Research carried out by boffins in California appears to have seriously undermined a major piece of received wisdom regarding transport: namely, the belief that railways are more eco-friendly than airliners.

The cage-rattling analysis comes from profs at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. Rather than merely considering the carbon emissions resulting from fuel burned, the researchers considered every ecological impact created by having a given means of transport. Carbon or other greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from manufacture of concrete and steel, generation of electricity, manufacture of rolling stock etc. were all accounted for with respect to railways: and in the case of aircraft, building of airports and other associated infrastructure was included along with manufacture of the planes and so on.

According to the Berkeley boffins, the added greenhouse burden of construction, manufacturing, supply chain etc. etc. adds 155 per cent to the impact of railways, compared to "tailpipe emissions" arising in use. For road vehicles the increase is 63 per cent. But for aircraft it's just 31 per cent - the low figure being partly because aircraft emit a lot of exhaust in service, and partly because they need relatively little infrastructure, materials and so on.

What this adds up to, according to the engineers, is that the highly energy-efficient light-rail system in Boston - where a lot of electricity is fossil generated - has the same environmental impact when half full as a medium-sized airliner with 38 per cent occupancy. The virtuous public transport system is actually more environmentally damaging per passenger mile than the fuel-guzzling jet, even at somewhat higher occupancy.

We here on the Reg flying-car desk are particularly bucked by this news, obviously, as it would seem to lend support to our hypothesis that flying cars could be greener than normal ones. Or anyway, greener than trains running half empty.

The Californian engineers' paper is published online (free) today, in the journal Environmental Research Letters. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.