Head of Energy & Sustainability
Mustab AHMED

World First Air Port For Flying Taxis

Can you believe it’s been over 12 years since we published the very first edition of Footprints? After so long of highlighting the very best in energy and sustainability around the world, including some of those more unusual ideas, we thought it would be a good time for a bit of a design refresh. I hope that you enjoy this April edition and if you would like to give us any feedback, then please feel free to get in touch with me directly using the contact details below.


Urban Air Port Air-One has obtained funding from the UK government to build the world-first fully operational hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft on the outskirts of Coventry, to start operations in November of this year.

Initially intended to provide the facilities required for the ever growing use of autonomous cargo drones by delivery companies to deliver packages, the intension is that as certification of passenger carrying eVTOLs progresses, that such Urban Air Ports will provide the essential infrastructure to enable the growth of this new form of mobility.

Partnering with Urban Air Port, Coventry City Council and the UK Government is Hyundai Motor Group which plans to create its own eVTOL aircraft to support the broader urban air mobility eco-system and its plan to commercialise its aircraft by 2028.

Designed to emit net zero carbon emissions Air-One can be operated completely off-grid. It could help to reduce congestion, cut air pollution and help achieve a zero carbon future. It can also be integrated with other electric vehicles and sustainable public transport. The company plans to install more than 200 zero-emission sites worldwide over the next five years in response to global demand.


A survey conducted by HSBC of 1,000 businesses has found that more than 7 in 10 (73%) plan to introduce net zero emissions goals to their own operations and across their supply chains within the next year, showing that the net zero agenda continues to permeate across the economy.

86% have also said that they had identified multiple opportunities to improve their environmental and ethical performance, with 75% having metrics in place to measure their progress, this being up from the 62% recorded in 2019. These include 28%
measuring energy use, 20% measuring carbon emissions and 20% measuring packaging materials and waste.

The survey concludes that businesses genuinely want to build back better and give top priority to sustainability and the move to a net zero economy.

However, a similar such survey that released their results at around the same time found that SME’s may have different challenges and priorities, with around 40% not having plans in place to meet net zero. Conducted by YouGov and commissioned by World Kinect Energy Services, the survey of 1,021 UK SMEs further found that 30% do not have any intension of becoming more sustainable in the immediate future, although 53% do have long terms plans for the 2050 deadline.

The study did highlight the barriers in place preventing some businesses from adopting sustainable measures, with cost and the implications of the pandemic being the two most popular.


Hydrogen powered vehicles are now quite commonplace, these vehicles that produce zero emissions (apart from water vapour) transport the citizens of most major cities about their daily lives. However, the use of the technology in smaller vehicles, particularly bikes and scooters has been impractical due to the high-pressure tanks required to store the hydrogen.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden believe they have provided a solution, a safe method of storing hydrogen in a chemical form that is easy to transport and replenish; POWERPASTE.

In a traditional hydrogen vehicle, the fuel is stored at a pressure of 700 bar in a reinforced tank, this supplies a fuel-cell which converts the hydrogen into electricity which then drives an electric motor for propulsion. The problem for smaller vehicles is in the refuelling and the high pressure of fuel delivery to the small tank volumes.

POWERPASTE is based on solid magnesium hydride and stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on demand. Refuelling would be as simple as replacing an empty cartridge with a new one and then refill a tank with mains water. In the vehicle itself, the paste is pressed out of the cartridge and mixed with a precisely measured amount of water, depending on the required power. This reaction produces gaseous hydrogen, which can then be
converted into electricity for the electric motor.

Although originally designed for smaller applications the technology can be scaled up to also power cars and larger vehicles, with the added advantage that unlike gaseous hydrogen, refuelling can effectively happen anywhere where a cartridge can be swapped out, eliminating costly hydrogen infrastructure.


Observations of the flying patterns of wasps when in an enclosed space have led to an exciting proposition by the Es iest ein Witz institute in Germany for how this nuisance of the insect world could generate power for our homes.

The clever scientists, who obviously have nothing better to do, saw that when enclosed in a circular vessel, the wasps maintained a consistent flying pattern as a swarm. Starting at the bottom they flew en-masse in a clockwise direction corkscrewing upwards. When reaching the top they followed the curve of vessel dropping to low level in a thin layer following the perimeter of the tank, to begin the flight pattern again when they reached the bottom. Like a tornado which this flight pattern resembles, there are huge amounts of energy contained in the process.

A prototype 1.5m diameter vessel was constructed, containing 50,000 of the stingy blighters, with air inlets at the bottom of the tank, and a single 42mm diameter piped outlet at the top into which a turbine blade was placed driving an electrical generator. Once started the motion of the insects wings within the huge swarm pulls air through the lower inlets quickly increasing its speed and pressure by its swarming pattern where it rises to the top before being forced through the small aperture at even greater pressure and speed, driving the generators blades. During initial runs 1.25 kW of power was generated, enough to boil a kettle.

Upscaled for full domestic use, this strategy could turn the energy industry upside down, with entire homes being run on little more than a jar of strawberry jam.


(Extract from Foreman Roberts Updated Guide)

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel (Hyrogen) into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Fuel cells are used for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel cell vehicles. Cost of the technology is currently prohibitive along with the lack of hydrogen infrastructure.

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