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United Invests In Swedish Electric Airplane Startup

Reducing carbon emissions from commercial aircraft is hard. Unlike cars, trucks, and buses, where the extra weight of batteries is more or less irrelevant, weight is absolutely critical when it comes to planes. If 747s were made of cast iron, the history of flight would be short indeed.

It’s simple physics. According to Jet Pack Aviation, jet fuel has an energy density of 9.6 kWh per liter. By comparison, the battery in a Tesla Model 3 has an energy density of 207 wH per kilogram. That means jet fuel has about 50 times as much energy by weight that the best batteries available today. That’s not the end of the story, of course. Electric motors are far more efficient than jet engines, so that narrows the advantage a bit. Even so, a thousand pounds of jet fuel yields about 14 times more power than a thousand pounds of batteries.

What that means is that electric aircraft are not going to be shuttling 500 people non-stop across the Pacific Ocean any time soon. However, they may…

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