Case studies

Leading defence companies in the race for net zero

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

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Vehicle electrification

BabcockInternational has begun to ramp up activities related to the military EV market and has partnered with EV specialist Electrogenic to develop drop-in electrification kits for British Army Land Rovers to showcase the potential for retroactive electrification of military platforms. As diesel will eventually be phased out, the British Army is looking out for potential future means of propulsion.  

In September 2023, Babcock signed a memorandum of understanding with Cosworth, a company focusing on propulsion technology, to see how hybrid systems would work in military land vehicles. It is unlikely that full electric drive will be available for all military platforms soon, so hybrid solutions are seen as a natural step towards that future goal.   

Leonardo is the prime contractor on the US military Secure Tactical Advance Mobile Power (STAMP) program. Leonardo’s subsidiary, Leonardo DRS, successfully demonstrated its new On-Board Vehicle Power system to the US Army in October 2023. 

Leonardo describes its OBVP system as a “vehicle-based generator using a permanent magnet machine integrated within an Allison transmission that provides electrical power to support operations in remote areas.” Reportedly, the system showed that it could improve mission readiness, improve battlefield agility and reduce logistics costs without impacting the functionality of the vehicle. 

The system allows a vehicle to become an expeditionary tactical power source, meaning users can have electrical power whenever they need it. The power generated can range from 30kW to 125kW for medium tactical and combat vehicles. 

Electric aircraft development

Airbus completed the development of the E-Fan 1.0, the first all-electric demonstrator aircraft in its portfolio, in 2013. In 2015, the E-Fan 1.1 successfully crossed the English Channel. The milestone demonstrated the potential for short commercial flights using electric aircraft. 

Airbus has also experimented with micro-mobility solutions, which could, in time, disrupt the helicopter industry. In 2019, the CityAirbus, a remotely piloted four-passenger electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, conducted its first take-off. 

Meanwhile, Swedish start-up Heart Aerospace has made significant steps towards electric aircraft, attracting substantial investment as a result. The company has received $37.3 million to develop its aircraft, including support from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. 

Having tested a subscale model, the company plans to roll out a commercial model of its Heart ES-19 by 2026. United Airlines and Mesa Air Group have preordered 200 Heart ES-19s.

Carbon capture and storage in the aviation and maritime sectors

While the application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology directly to aircraft remains nascent, aviation industry players are investing in direct air capture to offset carbon emissions. 

Airbus has partnered with 1PointFive and has pre-purchased 100,000 tonnes of carbon removals over four years as part of an initial agreement. It has also partnered with seven airlines, including Air Canada, Air France-KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group, LATAM Airline Group, Lufthansa Group, and Virgin Atlantic, to negotiate purchases of emissions via direct air carbon capture. 

Founded in 2017, Value Maritime is a Dutch maritime technology company that has become a leader in applying CCS to ships. The company’s Filtree carbon capture unit includes a carbon battery, which can be offloaded to industries that require carbon in a circular process. In February 2023, this fully integrated system was installed on Eastern Pacific Shipping’s MR tanker M/T Pacific Cobalt. In March 2023, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) awarded the company approval in principle (AiP) for its Filtree carbon capture system and battery container. 

Founded in 2021, London-based firm Seabound has succeeded in developing a CCS solution that captures 95% of emissions from ships. Its CCS solution is attached adjacent to the funnel of ships, where the ship’s exhausts pass through it. The firm plans to go commercial with its CCS solution in 2024. 

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.