LLA joins Cranfield carbon capture study

By London Luton Airport | August 09, 2022

London Luton Airport (LLA) has teamed up with Cranfield University for a first of its kind study on the potential of emerging carbon capture, storage and sequestration (CCUS) technologies for the aviation sector.

The report focused primarily on 2019 emissions from the operational aspects of LLA, as well as Aberdeen Airport, Indira Gandhi International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

Researchers looked at the potential for CCUS technologies, including direct air capture (DAC), as the aviation sector looks to achieve Net Zero and make ‘green’ airports a reality in the future. DAC works by capturing CO2 in the air and then either sequestrating it or using it to manufacture carbon neutral fuel.

London Luton Airport Head of Sustainability, David Vazquez, commented: “This collaboration provides timely, valuable insight into carbon capture and storage technologies and innovations, some of which we will explore further as we develop our evolving Net Zero roadmap.

“Although we recognise there will be some emissions that we cannot reduce in the short-term, London Luton Airport is committed to achieving carbon neutrality in 2023 and Net Zero for airport operations by 2040. This study is an example of how LLA is working with the wider industry to look at the potential of emerging CCUS technologies.”

The study concludes that integrating renewable green hydrogen technology (generated by renewable energy or low carbon power) with DAC and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), could help to support the UK’s Net Zero ambitions. It adds that CCUS should be included alongside other air transport energy policies as part of the Government’s Net Zero 2050 roadmap.

Dr Chikage Miyoshi, a co-author of the report and lead for Cranfield University’s Sustainable Aviation Systems Laboratory, said: “Carbon abatement measures have the potential to revolutionise the concept of aerospace sustainability, particularly through CCUS at airports.  

“The case airports involved in this report recorded CO2 emissions in the range of 50 to 100 kilo tonnes of CO2 per annum. This indicates the potential of direct air capture in an airport environment.”

Six different types of CCUS engineering-based solutions were examined as part of the report, each with the potential to be combined with nature-based solutions for mitigating CO2 emissions, including tree planting and wetland restoration.

“There are various sources of emissions at an airport ranging from electrical generation through to ground operations. Emissions from passenger surface access - the way customers reach the airport - are the second largest emissions source after aircraft emissions,” said Dr Miyoshi.

“Based on current technology, it is estimated that for CCUS engineering measures at London Luton Airport, up to 0.04-2.5 km2, would be required. Some aspects could be introduced by airports working with local power stations.”

The report – The viability of Carbon Capture at Airports using Innovative Approaches – was compiled for the world’s leading specialist in air transport technology, SITA.

Dr. Carlos Kaduoka, Head of Airport Business Strategy, SITA, said: “SITA is committed to reducing its climate impact and building a more sustainable air transport industry. Contributing to the research by Cranfield University is one example of our collaborative industry approach to exploring new ways to help decarbonize the industry and reach net-zero emissions.”

The report will be published at the end of August on the Cranfield University website.

The Cranfield Academics involved:

Dr Chikage Miyoshi, Reader in Environment Systems for Aerospace, Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics

Dr Mingming Zhu - Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering - Centre for Climate and Environmental Protection

Professor Paul Burgess, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Agroforestry, Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute

Dr Nick Girkin, Lecturer in Plant Soil Systems, Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute

Dr Peter Clough, Senior Lecturer in Energy Engineering, Centre for Climate and Environmental Protection

About London Luton Airport

London Luton Airport (LLA) is one of the UK’s busiest airports, carrying 58 million passengers in the past five years.

The airport is operated by a consortium of which the majority shareholder is AENA, the world’s largest airport operator, and AMP Capital, a specialist global investment manager. Airlines include easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Tui, Blue Air, FlyOne, Sun Express and El Al.

Passengers travelling by rail can reach the airport via a half-hourly express rail service which operates between London and Luton Airport Parkway. In addition, work is nearly complete on a light rail system linking the airport with Luton Airport Parkway station. The project is being delivered by the airport owners, Luton Rising – a company owned by Luton Council to enhance local and regional economic growth and social investment.