Commercial planes may not be able to run on electric power – at least not yet – but in Australia, an aviation company has deployed an all-electric aircraft refueller to lessen the environmental footprint of airlines.
Designed and built in Australia, the SEA Electric 500 EV tanker has entered service in Brisbane in partnership with Air BP and aviation service company Refuel International.
The tanker truck can carry around 16,000 litres of aviation fuel which it pumps into aeroplane tanks with fully electric onboard pumps.
Tony Fairweather, SEA Electric’s CEO and founder, says the tanker showcases the possibilities of EV technology while setting a standard for environmental credentials and performance.
“Working airside on the tarmac has its own special suite of conditions when contrasted to a delivery truck on the open road, with the energy demands of the vehicle vastly different to the norm, however, leading criteria such as safety and reliability remain imperative,” he said.
“Of course, there are environmental benefits of converting to EV, with CO2 and other exhaust particulates eliminated, which makes for a healthier work environment at airports.”
Fairweather says the introduction of the all-electric aircraft refueller is a first step toward an airport becoming a Virtual Power Plant.
“Imagine the near future where every Brisbane airport vehicle is battery electric and networked to both renewable sources of energy for charging – such as roof mounted solar – and also to the grid itself to deploy excess energy when the grid requires it. This is just around the corner.”
The technology used in the SEA Electric 500 EV has been used in the past to electrify a wide range of ancillary functions in commercial vehicles, including the hydraulic systems found on rubbish trucks, elevated work platforms, tippers and tilt trays – and the cooling units found in refrigerated delivery trucks. In the case of the airport tanker, the majority of the energy used for the truck is deployed in fuel delivery rather than propulsion – easy to understand given the truck actually travels only limited distances around the airport apron.
Daniel Tyzack, MD at Air BP Asia Pacific, says his company has been collaborating with SEA and Refuel International for two years on the custom-designed and specialised electric refueller. Much focus has been on meeting exacting performance and safety requirements required for operating in an airport environment.
“We are delighted to launch the refueller at Brisbane Airport where we are responsible for fuelling 30 airlines and approximately 100 flights daily,” he said.
“Our work reflects BP’s ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero by working with our customers to help decarbonise.”
SEA Electric is an Australian company with a global reach specialising in the assembly and 100 per cent electrification of commercial vehicles. The company was founded in 2012 and launched in 2017.