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Breaking Stories

After six years of development, Google co-founder Sergey Brin's airship company, LTA Research and Exploration, has sold an 18-metre long, 12-engined, all-electric aircraft called Airship 3.0 to Nicholas Garafolo, an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Garafolo leads LTA’s research team, staffed students and graduates of UA’s College of Engineering. 

The first prototype, registered in September 2018, was also a 12-engined electric airship, but only 15 meters long, and has undergone flight tests in Akron. Akron was where the US Navy built gargantuan airships in the 1930s, and is still home to the largest active airship hangar in the world.

Buoyancy is a key question - hydrogen is cheap, plentiful and the lightest gas in the universe, but also extremely flammable and difficult to contain. Helium, the next lightest gas, is safely inert, but expensive and increasingly scarce. LTA’s airship, uniquely, will use helium for provide lift and hydrogen to power its electric engines through fuel cells. 

Three men missing in the Micronesia archipelago were spotted on Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and United States aircraft three days after setting out from Pulawat atoll in a 7-metre boat on July 30. Heading to Pulap atoll 43 kilometres away, they sailed off course and ran out of fuel. The men were found about 190 kilometres from where they had set out.

This serves as another example highlighting the need for improved safety standards and practices for even the smallest vessels, including diversified propulsion between motor and sail rigs. Fortunately, these men were spotted and rescued, which is not often the outcome when people at sea going missing across the region.


Carbon emissions from shipping rose in the six-year period to 2018 and accounted for 2.89% of the world’s CO2 according to the 4th IMO report recently issued. It has increased from 2.76% in 2012, when the last study period ended, and CO2 emissions grew to 1,056 million tonnes in 2018 compared to 962 million tonnes in 2012. While emissions in 2020 and 2021 are expected to be significantly lower due to the impact of COVID-19, the recovery trajectory will determine under what trends decarbonization is realized.


MCST partner Tristan Smith, with advisory group UMAS/University College London, said, “The report is positive towards the likelihood of achieving decarbonisation, as long as IMO and national governments now take strong policy action to help incentivise this.”

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has released the final report of the Fourth IMO Greenhouse Gas Study. Prepared by a global consortium, including researchers from The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime shipping were found to have risen ~10% from 2012 to 2018. Short-lived climate pollutants, also known as climate super pollutants,  increased most markedly, including a 12% increase in black carbon emissions and a 150% increase in methane emissions, which has been attributed to a surge in the number of ships fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Unburned methane escapes into the atmosphere, and the need to include methane in future phases of the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) regulations is clear.

Currently, only CO2 emissions are limited under the EEDI.