Aug 31, 2016

The connection between climate change and turbulence

2 min
Sixteen people were hospitalised today after ‘severe’ turbulence forced a transatlantic flight to make an emergency landing at Shannon Ai...

Sixteen people were hospitalised today after ‘severe’ turbulence forced a transatlantic flight to make an emergency landing at Shannon Airport in Ireland.

United Airlines flight UA-880 was en route to London’s Heathrow airport from Houston, Texas with 207 passengers and 13 crew on board. It’s unclear what caused this particularly violent bout of rough air — but climate change could mean many more airline passengers are in for a bumpy ride.

Why does turbulence occur?

There are a number of different causes of turbulence, including thermal currents, upward and downward currents from thunderclouds, rising air and an aircraft’s so-called ‘wake vortex’. Pilots are trained to understand how to deal with turbulence and flight paths are customised to minimise the risk of running into a rough patch.

However, clear air turbulence (CAT), which occurs in cloudless skies, is much more difficult to predict and cannot be detected via radar.  CAT is thought to be caused by the edge of a jet stream mixing with slower moving air.

What effect do CO2 emissions have?

Earlier this year, a report by a scientist from the University of Reading predicted that the jet stream — bands of strong winds which shift weather systems around the globe — could become 15 percent stronger if global temperatures continue to rise. As a result, westbound flight times will be increased and turbulence could become so severe as to inhibit travel at certain times.

To make matters worse, longer flight times will require a predicted 7.2 million additional gallons of jet fuel, which will in turn emit an extra 70 million kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere. More turbulent flights could also result in increased wear and tear on an aircraft, increasing the time and money spent on maintenance.

Fearful fliers beware, the skies could get a lot choppier if fossil fuel emissions continue to rise. 

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Jun 7, 2021

Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Commodity trading company Trafigura and Yara International sign MoU to explore developing ammonia as a clean fuel in shipping

Independent commodity trading company Trafigura and Yara International have signed an MoU to explore developing ammonia as a clean fuel in shipping and ammonia fuel infrastructure.

Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050. 

How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.

Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:

  • The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
  • Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
  • Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities

Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.  

There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.

Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.

Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.

Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.

It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.

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