Airbus continues its efforts to reduce the carbon emissions of its operations. While a number of initiatives are ongoing to develop aircraft, systems and operational processes that run more efficiently, its latest innovation is in the use of paint. The Toulouse-based company has designed and built a new paint booth to enable it latest aircraft – the A350 jetliner – to be painted without as much energy demand when compared to typical facilities. The innovative booth in which the planes will be painted will also minimise carbon emissions.
Usually, Airbus’ fleet will be decked out in relevant livery through a process which requires 21 to 26 degrees Celsius as a constant temperature and 45% to 70% humidity rate. This has proven challenging as the seasons change with more energy needed to either heat or cool the facility to create the optimum conditions for painting. The new paint booth which has gone into service at the company’s Saint-Nazaire plant will recover heat from the surrounding environment using what is known as the Enthalpic wheel which is essentially a rotary heat exchanger. The system is complemented by a CO2 heat pump (which replaces gas-powered boilers) which brings water up to a temperature of 85 degrees Celsius to furnish the booth with 21 degrees of heat. This eliminates the CO2 emissions generated from gas combustion.
Pascal Danthony, project leader, exampled some of the many advantages of the system, not least its capacity to save up to 67% of energy use while drastically cutting carbon emissions. An 86% reduction in CO2 has been achieved. The leftover 14% comes from the electrics in the fans and heat pump. The biggest advantage, however, is the process can be put in place across Airbus’ many paint shops elsewhere. This would make an even greater gain in manufacturer’s green agenda while it has reported payback on investment of four years.