Feasibility study into the use of wind gliding and thermal updraft technologies as alternative energies for commuter flights
Jemba, Tendo Anthony
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Thermal updrafts occur freely in the earth's troposphere. The effects of differential surface heating create convection effects within the planetary (convective) boundary layer. This leads to the formation of thermal updrafts as warm parcels of air attain heat energy from contact with the surface. Warm air rises to the top as cooler air from the higher layers comes in to replace it. As the warm air rises, it cools and at the top of the boundary layer, it cools to form cumulus clouds. Air travel is over dependent on the finite reserves of fossil fuels for which future projections of the industry’s growth will not be supported. Air travel costs are notably dictated by the market prices of fossil fuels. With globalisation, there’s a great demand for high speed travel between places of work and residence (commuting). Greenhouse gas emissions are also associated with this dependence on fossil fuels yet they destroy the earth atmosphere and ecosystem. This project aimed to check the potential in exploiting thermal updrafts to cut down on the heavy reliance on fossil fuels for air travel. Wind energy is readily available in the earth's troposphere and a greater level of harnessing it would go far to promote a sustainable earth for future generations. Using U.S. Geographical Survey (U.S.G.S) Landsat 8 satellite images and formula manipulation in QGIS coupled with the Childress Matlab Model, it was found that the central regions of Uganda (Kampala and surrounding areas) supported soaring environments. However the soaring environments were not sufficient to support commuter flights as they exhibited minimal soaring characteristics in terms of updraft velocity. The technology was also observed to be cheaper than small flier commuter travel per hour taken from a year’s average worth of flight. The technology is heavily recommended for use in large farmlands for surveillance and pesticides fumigation as well as recreation activities and sporting. To enhance commuting potential, coupling the technology with already existing sustainer engines to form a hybrid system is recommended as well.