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Episode 8 Transcript: What if Planes Only Emitted Water

The complete transcript for episode 8.

Episode 8 Transcript: What if Planes Only Emitted Water

Molly Wood:

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy … where we dive deep into the climate crisis … and come up with solutions.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend … some of you are probably listening to this on your flight back from whatever fun place you went for the 4th of July …

So this week … let’s buzzkill the crap out of that for you … shall we? We’re going to the friendly skies …

Where airplanes … emit about a billion tons of carbon dioxide every single year … that’s about 2.4 percent of total CO2 emissions. That stuff lingers in the atmosphere … heating the planet … for thousands of years.

And … it’s not just carbon dioxide … the ethereal white contrails streaking out behind your plane are actually … apparently … icy clouds of death … that trap heat … instead of reflecting it like regular clouds do.

This is crazy … a 2011 study said the contrails ALONE have led to more warming … than all of aviation’s CO2 emissions … ever.

That takes air travel’s climate impact all the way up to 3.5 percent … of global warming. And the VAST majority of those emissions … are from passenger travel …

which just … keeps … GROWING.

So that sucks. Sorry.

There’s a lot of attention on air travel … and trying to figure out how to decarbonize it … it’s a tricky one … batteries don’t really work because there isn’t enough range and they weigh too much … there is a thing called sustainable aviation fuel … we’ll dispense with that toward the end of the show.

And then there’s the holy grail … hydrogen. Specifically … GREEN hydrogen … where hydrogen is created by splitting water molecules apart … into hydrogen … and oxygen … using renewable energy. You collect the hydrogen … and release the oxygen …

And for any more science than that … I’m bringing on today’s guest …

Paul Eremenko:My name is Paul Eremenko. I am one of the co-founders and the CEO of Universal Hydrogen, and Universal Hydrogen is working to make the hydrogen value chain work end-to-end in the near future for a variety of mobility applications, starting with aviation.

Molly Wood:

Paul is … very smart. He studied aeronautics and astronautics at M-I-T … got a master’s in aeronautics at Caltech … also got a law degree from Georgetown just in case … and he was previously the Chief Technology Officer at Airbus … and United Technologies Corporation. He also worked at Google and worked on Project Ara … which was an attempt to create a modular … open-standards … smartphone platform … you’d just swap out parts of your phone over time in a way that last week’s guest … Kyle Wiens … would love.

This will be important later.

Now the first thing you’re gonna wanna do here is ask Paul about using hydrogen as a fuel source. And here’s what he’s going to say.

Paul Eremenko:So, hydrogen, and actually maybe, I start at the risk of starting on the wrong note. I'll start with a correction. Hydrogen is not a fuel source. It is a fuel source in the grand scheme of the universe in the sense that the stars are powered by hydrogen in some ways.

But actually on earth and in particular for aviation, for cars, for other mobility applications.

It's not a fuel source, it's just a storage medium. Right, which means, and the reason for that is that hydrogen is not a naturally occurring element on earth in spite of being the most abundant element in the universe. So we have to make hydrogen, so, and invest energy into making the hydrogen.

So it is in some ways a synthetic fuel for us. We have to synthesize it. And then it serves as an energy storage medium and releases the energy when you need it to release the energy. And so as an energy storage medium, as an energy carrier would be the engineering term for it. It is the most weight-efficient of all possible energy carriers outside of nuclear fuels.

Right. So it is a very efficient way of storing energy. For applications that care about weight and there's a few of them, probably the most weight-sensitive application that we have is space launch rockets, right?

Cuz you need a lot of fuel. They have to invest a lot of energy into getting to orbital velocity and orbital altitude. Rockets already and have for most of their history, used hydrogen as a fuel for that very reason. It's a very, very efficient energy carrier. And aviation is probably next in line.

Right. Other most mobility applications have some degree of weight sensitivity. But aviation is right at the top of the list. And so, that's one of the reasons that we see aviation as sort of the killer app for hydrogen and hydrogen as the ideal fuel for aviation. Long before there were any environmental considerations to take into account.

And of course now that's an added impetus for hydrogen adoption.

Molly Wood:

I mean. I love him. Ok let’s continue …

Paul Eremenko:

It does depend on the availability of renewable electricity and luckily, renewable electricity has been on an exponential and an exponential growth trajectory, since the Paris Agreement essentially, right? And as a result, the cost of green hydrogen has decreased also exponentially.

About two-thirds to three-quarters of the cost of green hydrogen is just the cost of input electricity. So as that gets cheaper, the hydrogen gets cheaper. And there's also an additional dynamic here, which is a lot of sources of renewable electricity run 24/7, right? So if you have hydropower, a dam, right, the water flows 24/7, but you typically don't have grid demand, 24/7.

You have peaks and troughs in grid demand. And so during off-peak hours, you're still producing the electricity and running electrolyzers, which is the device used to break water into hydrogen and oxygen. Running electrolyzers is a very efficient way of scavenging off-peak renewable electricity at very low prices.

Molly Wood:


Paul Eremenko:

So this overall increase in renewable electricity and commensurate increase in off-peak renewable electricity that you can get very cheaply because there isn't really any other use for it, you can't store it efficiently,

Molly Wood:


Paul Eremenko:has led to a very rapid decrease in the cost of green hydrogen and a very significant increase in the volume production capacity of green hydrogen.

So that's probably the most exciting trend that would answer the sort of why now question with hydrogen. Alright, because the idea of hydrogen as an energy storage mechanism for mobility applications, and in particular, aviation goes pretty far back first. The first manned hydrogen airplane flew in the 1950s.

Soviets flew an airliner in the eighties on liquid hydrogen, and none of that was environmentally driven, right? That was all just the fundamental physics that make hydrogen such a great aviation fuel.

Molly Wood:

Right. This is where I feel like we should also finally clue people into. What now, because you are in fact using this for airplanes,

Paul Eremenko:

That's right. Yeah. Yeah. We're trying to make hydrogen commercial aviation a near-term reality. So as early as 2025 or more likely 2026 in a more significant part of the world, we do expect to have hydrogen regional airplanes and commercial service.

Molly Wood:


Paul Eremenko:

We flew a prototype.

Molly Wood:

yes. Like you've flown,

Paul Eremenko:

Exactly. Yeah. That is the most exciting news of the last couple of months. On March 2nd, this year, we flew by far the largest airplane ever to fly on hydrogen fuel cells. That was in Moses Lake, Washington, and it was a 40-50 passenger regional airplane called the Dash 8.

It's very similar to our first product, which will be a conversion of existing ATR 72s, which is the most popular regional airplane out there. And so we do two things as a company. We try to solve the hydrogen delivery, distribution, and infrastructure problem. And the way we do that is we put hydrogen in modular capsules.

And use the existing freight network to deliver the hydrogen. So you don't have to build a custom purpose-built infrastructure for hydrogen, which can be very expensive, very time-consuming, and you gotta do it in a lot of places at once. So instead we say, Hey, we're gonna turn hydrogen into dry freight.

And there's already a massive cargo network, cargo infrastructure out there. So we just piggyback off that cargo infrastructure. And of course, every airport knows how to handle cargo, has all that equipment. So we internalize all the complexity of managing hydrogen inside our modular capsule.

And externally, it's just a piece of freight. It's just palletized cargo. So we solve that infrastructure problem. We provide hydrogen as a service to airlines, and then we also, for the first product, which is this regional ATR 72, we provide a conversion kit to the airline so that we can simultaneously solve the chicken and egg supply demand problem.

Right? So, we have an infrastructure solution to supply the hydrogen, and we have a conversion kit that we can sell directly to the airline to convert their fleet.

Molly Wood:

Let’s talk about the modules …

Paul Eremenko:

Basically they, anywhere a shipping container can go, our modules can go, right? They stack inside a shipping container. And then go over this intermodal freight network that we have, which comprises of trucks, trains, boats, whatever modality of delivery you want.

Molly Wood:

So then, and the way that this creates infrastructure is that when the regional jet arrives somewhere, there are modules, it's plug and play.

Paul Eremenko:

That's right. The modules are there waiting.

Molly Wood:

like a gas station, if you will.

Paul Eremenko:

Exactly. And so we would take out the depleted module from the airplane. We would insert a new fully fueled module. The depleted one would go in a reverse logistics chain, get inspected, there's a health monitoring system on it, and get refueled and put back into circulation.

Molly Wood:

Got it.

Paul Eremenko:

So I call it the Nespresso capsule model, right? We don't grow the coffee. We put it in a convenient form factor, use freight to deliver it to the consumer. They pop it into the coffee machine, and we are building the first coffee machine. But in general, that's not our core business. Our core business is coffee as a service.

Molly Wood:

Right. So talk to me about the things that are hard about this. Okay. So you have this conversion kit for airlines. How hard is it for them to convert to using these fuel modules?

Paul Eremenko:

It's designed to not be very hard, right? So it's essentially a replacement of the engine. And we also have to add a compartment in the back of the airplane. It replaces a couple of rows of seats for storing these hydrogen modules. So there is a net seat count reduction on the airplane, and we have to make up for that seat count reduction through better unit economics elsewhere, right?

So that airlines have sort of equivalent cost per seat mile, is what they care about in terms of operating costs. And the way we make up for it is that actually a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor together are significantly more efficient at sort of end-to-end energy conversion than a jet engine, than burning.

Burning jet fuel or hydrogen for that matter. And so we make up for the loss of seats in improved efficiency, and also the maintenance costs in a fuel cell are significantly lower than on a jet engine.

So those two factors, together with the cost trajectory of green hydrogen, basically make it so that the unit economics for the airline are about the same, starting in the mid-2020s, and then they get considerably better as the cost of hydrogen continues to drop.

In terms of how much hydrogen costs compared to jet fuel, apparently that is a complicated question because hydrogen itself doesn’t have a price like a barrel of oil, and the cost of it comes down to what you spent to make it, but Paul says that between the expansion of green energy and the various subsidies, especially in the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s likely that in the U.S. at least, the price is similar to jet fuel, and it’ll be more cost-effective by the end of the decade.

Time for a quick break … when we come back … what it will take to get airplane makers to build all their FUTURE planes to take little Nespresso hydrogen pods instead of jet fuel.

Molly Wood:

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool … I’m talking with Paul Eremenko … the C-E-O of Universal Hydrogen … a company on a mission to transform air travel … with green hydrogen on-demand …

Let's talk about the planes themselves and what will need to happen for this to be, is it the hope that this will be kind of a AA battery? I mean, that it, you know, it will become a sort of, it's a standard and that planes of the future and either planes will be retrofitted to that design standard and that planes of the future will incorporate it.

Paul Eremenko:

Yeah, I think consumer batteries are a really good analogy, right? We do want these modules to be interchangeable. We do want them to be ubiquitous. Of course, you will have different flavors, if you will, of modules for different applications, right? So you have big airplanes, small airplanes. You might have non-aviation applications, and those will have AA, AAA, D cell batteries.

But within a particular category, you of course want maximum interchangeability and maximum degree of standardization. And that's one of the reasons that we have timed the company very carefully. We didn't want to be too early, because we want to intersect the hydrogen cost curve, right around the point of parity.

But we want to be early enough that our solution does become the industry standard.

Molly Wood:

right. Okay, now I feel like we should tell people why you know so much about airplanes. Tell us for someone who's sitting here thinking,

Paul Eremenko:

Well, I do have to say that I am every day reminded how much I don't know about airplanes. But, I have spent the bulk of my career in aviation. My two most recent roles prior to creating Universal Hydrogen were to be the Chief Technology Officer at Airbus. And after that, to be the Chief Technology Officer at UTC or United Technologies Corporation, which is now part of Raytheon or RTX. 

UTC notably, for this conversation, was the parent of Pratt and Whitney Jet Engines. And so I've looked at this problem first from an aircraft design perspective at Airbus, and invested a lot of effort in a variety of different decarbonization technologies, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, biofuels, hybrid electric, battery electric.

We did it all. We investigated it all. And then from an engine, from a jet engine perspective, right? Because for the large aircraft, you can't do a fuel cell and electric motor, you do have to do a hydrogen-burning jet engine. And the conclusion was that both a hydrogen airplane and a hydrogen-burning jet engine require no fundamental breakthrough.

It is within the realm of existing technology. It's been done. As I mentioned, we've flown hydrogen airplanes dating back to the fifties and the Soviets flew an airliner a couple of decades ago. So, it is absolutely doable to do airliners up to the A320/737 sort of scale, what's called single aisle or narrow body on hydrogen without any significant change to the airplane or significant change to the engine. 

It doesn't need to be a new airplane, but there's nothing radically different about it. There's no science, there's no invention, there's no drastically different geometry or architecture that's needed for it. So that is all very doable, which is why the missing piece was hydrogen logistics is how do you get the hydrogen from the point of production to the airport without building trillions and trillions of dollars of infrastructure, which is the standard way. There are trillions and trillions of jet fuel distribution, infrastructure of LNG, liquefied natural gas infrastructure. 

And if hydrogen goes the same way, it'll take decades and trillions of dollars. So we're trying to create a shortcut for the infrastructure to make hydrogen aviation a reality much sooner than if it were dependent on a conventional infrastructure build-out.

Molly Wood:Right. I sort of feel like, to put an even finer point on it, for consumers who may have seen the Toyota Mirai on the road and have ever talked to an owner, you may know that there's like one gas station in LA and maybe one in Berkeley somewhere. And anywhere between there, you don't know where to fill up. 

And if you imagine a scenario in which in order to roll out a solution, you had to build a fueling station everywhere. We're seeing that with electric cars. Right now what you're saying is I will bring the battery to you. I'll bring the gas to your house. Well, in this case, your airport.

Paul Eremenko:

Yeah, that's right. And I think this was also part of Tesla's brilliance in jump-starting the electric vehicle industry. Tesla is as much a smart charger company as they are a car company. They solved both the chicken and the egg on the infrastructure side and the vehicle side, and nobody else was doing that. Now we see other automakers coming, begging and pleading to Tesla to use their charger network.

And so we're trying to do that in a different domain of application with a different energy modality. But we're trying to solve that chicken and egg problem by doing both sides simultaneously for the first product.

Molly Wood:

okay, so then talk to the skeptics who think that green hydrogen itself does not scale. I feel like even very recently I had a conversation with someone who said, this is so far out, this is a pipe dream. Why do people say that? And what do you say to them?

Paul Eremenko:

Well, I think so. I think one of the most common misconceptions I hear about hydrogen, and this is sort of where we started the conversation and why I was so emphatic about it, is I think people think that hydrogen is a source of energy. And they say, but it's a terrible source of energy because we gotta put all this energy in to produce it and then to liquefy it. So it's very inefficient as a source of energy. 

Yeah. It's because it's not. It's not a source of energy at all. It's just an energy storage modality. And yes, you do pay, you do have to invest a lot of energy to create the hydrogen and then you extract a fraction of that energy through a fuel cell or through hydrogen combustion.

But if you do the calculus, it's not that expensive. Assuming that the electricity is affordable and it's very weight efficient. So I think if you put that lens on, you say, can we produce enough green hydrogen in the world in order to feed all of aviation? And the answer is yes. If you look at the projections for green hydrogen capacity, and if you look at, and we are wildly successful, and so we deliver on the regional product, we deliver on a hydrogen single aisle, right? Or narrow body. 

Obviously not by ourselves, right? But Airbus or Boeing would build the airplane, GE or Pratt and Whitney would build the engine. We would be the fuel supplier. If all of that happens, and that is the bulk of aviation emissions, by the way, that segment A320s and 737s, and their successor, which is coming next decade. 

That is more than half of all aviation emissions, which is counterintuitive. People think that it's a very large, very long-range airplanes that maybe emit the most, and of course, on a per-flight basis, that's true, but in aggregate, it's actually the mid-tier, right? What's called single aisle or narrow body aircraft because there's so many of them. 

And they fly so frequently, all the intra-Europe, intra-North America, and intra-China routes, right? They're all flown by that class of airplanes. And so as a result, that is who produces most aviation emissions. It is due for a new airplane, both from Boeing and from Airbus. 

And that airplane is very addressable with the hydrogen technology. So if you count that class, if you count regional, if you count electric air taxis will probably go hydrogen. If you add all of that up, it's still a relatively small fraction of the projected green hydrogen production capacity. If you believe the industry experts like McKinsey and others who put out these forecasts. 

Now, obviously, there's a supply-demand issue here, right? So if the demand is there, the supply will come, right? There's no inherent constraint on supply, and it takes much longer for Airbus to build a new airplane than for somebody to commission a new electrolyzer project, right? So as soon as Airbus announces a new hydrogen airplane, there will be a rush to build the green hydrogen production capacity. 

And there is no fundamental limit other than renewable electricity. And renewable electricity capacity far, far, far exceeds any demand for green hydrogen. That will not be the limiter. And then there's electrolyzer production capacity, which also is not a chokehold, right? So if you extrapolate to all of aviation, there's not really any obvious obstacle to producing enough green hydrogen to feed aviation. Is it here today? 

Of course not. That capacity will need to come online. But there's no obstacle to that capacity coming online if the demand is there.

Molly Wood:

So let's talk about the demand. What are the factors, the elements that will create that demand? And the hurdles that have to be overcome to get that demand to where it needs to be.

Paul Eremenko:

Well, I think there's a couple, right? The most obvious one is just the unit economics, right? Can hydrogen be cost-competitive with jet fuel? And we talked about that and the answer is yes, it can. With a fuel cell by the middle of the decade with hydrogen combustion by the end of this decade. So that is not the limiter. 

Can you have a hydrogen airplane and a hydrogen engine? Absolutely, 100%. It's been done. It will be done. Again, it's within the realm of existing technology. Will passengers wanna fly on a hydrogen airplane? Occasionally people raise the specter, say, oh, what about the Hindenburg? Or...

Molly Wood:

I was gonna get there,

Paul Eremenko:

I'm sure, I'm sure...

Molly Wood:


Paul Eremenko:

But look, you brought up the Mirai, right? The Toyota Mirai is on the roads of California. Does anybody swerve off the road or tense up as they pass because they're worried about the Hindenburg? Absolutely not. Right?

Molly Wood:

on the road all the time is like EVs.

Paul Eremenko:

Yeah, and it's a

Molly Wood:

but of all of the cars on the road right now, the one that would be the worst fire, frankly, is an electric car.

Paul Eremenko:

Yep. I think that's probably right. And so I think the Mirai has a much better safety record, and hydrogen in general is a safer fuel than gasoline or diesel or jet fuel. We can talk for a variety of different reasons, but it's the basic physics of it. And so, so I think that passenger acceptance, I mean, maybe you need to brand it as a fuel cell airplane or as a zero emissions airplane or whatever, right? 

But I don't think that there'll be a passenger acceptance issue as there hasn't been in the automotive world. And then maybe the last, or maybe the second to last issue I'll raise is what needs to change? I think that there's a mindset issue in aviation. The industry has been a victim of its own success. We've basically had incremental evolution of airplane design since the birth of the jet age. 

And so the industry, the DNA, the muscle memory, right? Nobody knows how to do anything beyond incrementalism in the industry anymore. Every airplane is a successive small improvement on the previous. This is why Boeing has been torturing the 737 since what, the 1960s when the first 737 came out, and they've had a dozen of derivative variants since then and haven't launched any airplane. 

Ultimately, the 737 Max was one torture too far. That unfortunately led to several accidents, which were directly attributable to the fact that they were modifying the design in ways that the original design wasn't meant to be modified. And adding stability augmentation, layering complexity in order to torture this design through a series of incremental improvements. So, I think that the aviation industry in particular, but so are many other sectors, are victims to this incrementalist mindset. 

And we gotta break out of it because this will be different. It's not a huge change, step change, like I said, no science needed, but there is engineering needed. And there needs to be some bravery and some intestinal fortitude from the leadership of the industry. I was doing an interview with PBS NewsHour. It hasn't aired yet. It should air sometime this summer. And I was explaining all of this and the interviewer said, so what you mean to say is that, not only do you have to get the fossils out of fuel tank, but you gotta get the fossils out of the C-suite.

Molly Wood:

you said it sir. You said it, not me.

Paul Eremenko:

That's right. That's why they make the big bucks.

Molly Wood:

that's right. That's why they make the big bucks. So, but that is true, right? There is an element of truth to it. The people that make it into the C-suite of the large aerospace companies are not typically the visionary innovators that are willing to take a bold step. And that needs to change because for the aviation sector, this climate change issue is an existential one. It is the sector where traffic volumes far outpace improvements in airplane efficiency, traffic volume growth, I should say. 

The easiest way to curtail aviation emissions is to curtail traffic growth. But the industry is built around this inviolate law almost of the fact that traffic doubles every 15 years. And that's been robust to 9/11. It was robust to Covid. There's a blip and then it goes right back to that exponential growth curve. If the governments end up having to break that and say, look, no, you can't grow traffic volumes, right? We're gonna curtail it through whatever means, through bans like in France, we're seeing flight bans.

In other places, we're seeing steep carbon taxes. That will break the whole industry cuz the industry has built that exponential growth into all of the investor expectations, right? And everything about the industry operates around that law. It'll be catastrophic. And I'm not sure that the captains of the industry see that today.

So be brave … airplane makers … who’s gonna go first?? Someone will have to … and here is where … before I let you go … I want to address the lifeline that many of these aircraft manufacturers are clinging to … sustainable aviation fuel … or S-A-F. Paul has some thoughts on this.

What is it … I asked him … and why is it … not enough?

Paul Eremenko:

Yeah, so actually there are two flavors of SAF, two broad categories. One is biofuels, which is where you use some kind of biological process to synthesize a hydrocarbon fuel. And in the process, the biological organism can sequester carbon. So, for instance, at Airbus, when I first arrived in the CTO role, I started touring Airbus' R&D facilities. 

And one of the things that we had in Munich at the Airbus R&D center was a big algae farm. The algae farm was to create biofuels to create bio, biofuel, jet fuel. And I asked, well, so it was a fairly large farm. I said, what's the output of this farm? And they gave me a little Erlenmeyer flask and said, here, you can keep this on your desk and show it to people, right? This is the output of the farm. 

And we ran some numbers. And in order to feed the entire Airbus fleet with a biofuel that comes from an algae-based biofuel, you'd need to cover the entire Mediterranean Sea with algae. And you can imagine what other negative environmental externalities would come from something like that. The amounts of biomass that you need to produce meaningful amounts of biofuel are huge. The impact is actually relatively small. 

So the theory is you're still producing a hydrocarbon. It looks just like kerosene, which is what jet fuel is made out of. But it's kerosene that comes from a biological process. You burn the kerosene, you produce CO2, you produce a bunch of non-CO2 stuff. But then you say, ah, but my algae sucked up some CO2 from the air. While it was producing the CO2, and you say, well, how much CO2 did it suck up? And the answer is very little of the aggregate output. 

So biofuels are not very scalable. They sound cool, but they're not a very scalable process, nor are they very efficient at actually solving the environmental problem. Now, synthetic fuels are a little bit different. Synthetic fuels are where you create your hydrocarbon. So you're still creating a synthetic kerosene molecule that looks just like a jet fuel, conventional fossil jet fuel kerosene molecule. 

But you create it from hydrogens and from carbons. So first you create green hydrogen, the same way that you would create green hydrogen for us, for Universal Hydrogen, for powering airplanes. Then you suck some CO2 out of the air using some process like direct air capture. And then you take the carbons from the CO2, you take the hydrogens and you synthetically combine them to make a hydrocarbon molecule. You take it to 35,000 feet, you burn it, you produce CO2, you produce a bunch of non-CO2 stuff that has a global warming impact. 

And you say, aha, but I atone for that because I captured some CO2 to combine with my hydrogen to make my synthetic hydrocarbon. So it is an offset scheme, and I think it's important to understand that you're still burning a hydrocarbon, but you're trying to offset that by doing something good somewhere else in the process. So functionally, you could be still digging up fossil fuels and paying somebody to plant trees in the Amazon. It's functionally equivalent to that.

Plus you already MADE green hydrogen … so why not just … use that … and then Paul points out that to do all the stuff after you create the hydrogen … takes four times more electricity to run … than it takes to just create the hydrogen and USE THAT. So sustainable airline fuel could end up costing four times more … just spitballing … than green hydrogen. AND …

Paul Eremenko:Um, and, and so, so that's the, now it's actually a little bit worse than that because when you burn a hydrocarbon at 35,000 feet, you produce CO2, you produce aerosols and soot and other things that also have a global warming impact, actually more significant than CO2. That's an aviation-specific sort of altitude-dependent effect. It's not true for cars. 

And so if you account for that and you say, I gotta capture even more CO2 to offset the global warming effect of my aerosols in particulates, then you're almost 10x the energy. But that's the trade, right? Right now what the aviation industry is saying is we don't wanna change the airplane. We don't wanna change the engine, but you airlines are gonna have to pay four to 10x more for the fuel.

And THAT is how … even minus flight bans or shaming or taxes or what-have-you … you end up with a whole lot fewer people flying … because no one will be able to afford it.

At the end of the day … it comes down to just a few airplane manufacturers … to make this call … but Paul says … this looming cost-catastrophe … costastrophe … is sinking in … and airlines … might actually … start to lead the pressure campaign on the Boeings and Airbuses of the world.

Paul Eremenko:I think the airlines are starting to see the pressure and so, so we've had a couple of airlines that have invested in Universal Hydrogen. A number are very interested in being early adopters of the regional technology.

And seeing how, how it plays out and whether it is something that would work for bigger airplanes. I think the world is watching. Airbus and Boeing will have to make a decision by the end of the 2020s on what that new single aisle or narrow body airplane, the replacement for the 737 and the A320 is gonna look like, and that could be a hydrogen airplane, but that decision will come in the latter part of the 2020s. And we're doing this regional product so that it's in service. So we've retired as much of the risk and been as convincing of a proof point for the next bigger class of airplanes as it's possible.

And listen right … who knows what’s going to happen and who’s going to pay whom and whether this works … this is a relatively early stage company with some pretty decent headwinds … in front of it. But here’s the thing. It’s POSSIBLE. It’s totally doable. To have planes that are significantly quieter … emit only WATER … when they pass overhead … pop in totally zero carbon fuel cells and swap ‘em out when they’re done.

It is POSSIBLE. We can HAVE a future like this … if only we’re willing to get there.

That's it for this episode of Everybody in the Pool. Be sure to like, subscribe, and leave a rating on Apple Podcasts. And as always, email your thoughts and ideas to For a deeper dive and more climate solutions news and information … subscribe to my newsletter at Thanks again to our sponsor, Fennel!

Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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