In its on-going effort to help reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change, Airbus has designed and built an innovative paint booth for its new-generation A350 XWB jetliner that uses significantly less energy than standard facilities, while also minimising CO2 emissions.
Airbus’ current livery painting process requires a constant temperature of 21-26 deg. C, as well as a humidity rate between 45 and 70 per cent – which presents a particular challenge during summer and winter months, when more energy is needed to overcome hot/cold outside temperatures and maintain the necessary conditions for painting.
Now in service at Airbus’ Saint-Nazaire plant in France, the new paint booth recovers heat from the paint shop using a rotary heat exchanger called an Enthalpic wheel. To complete the system, the project team replaced gas-heated boilers with a CO2 heat pump – heating water to 85 deg. C and furnishing 21 deg. C inside the booth, eliminating the CO2 emissions from gas combustion.
“This project is giving a 67-per cent saving in energy use and an 86-per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, with the remaining 14 per cent CO2 emissions coming from the electrical power required for fans and the heat pump,” said project leader Pascal Danthony.
He added: “The huge advantage of this project is that it can be applied across all our paint shops on other sites. With a return on investment of four years, this project is really leading the way for future energy reductions and achieving zero CO2 emissions from our industrial processes.”