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BYU Engineering and Systems Design Lab

Airport SoS

December 14, 2015

Shelby Larsen's abstract was accepted to the Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research. Congratulations! Her abstract is below:

Feasibility Study of Technology for Increasing Sustainability at Airports

Shelby Larsen and John Salmon, Brigham Young University

Airports are raising the bar in energy sustainability by implementing changes to their economical expenditures, ecological footprints, and social interaction with passengers and community. With increased levels of energy efficiency, airport systems are more productive, enabling more flights and passenger traffic with reduced expenditures as well as fewer flight delays.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate technologies that would improve or optimize various aspects in and around the airport. Airports have a large influence on local economies and surrounding communities, as well as domestic and international travelers. These communities as well as millions of passengers will see the positive outcome of these changes.

Solar and wind power are newer technologies currently transforming society in various ways. These alternative energies, if installed on a massive scale could offset the majority of the airport’s energy cost. Terminals now consume forty percent or more of the airport’s total energy. Additional technology, such as light and conveyor sensors, would reduce this energy requirement dramatically. Water usage can be reduced with low-flow and sensored water appliances and storm water retention can offsets this usage. Additionally, the collected surplus is then used to water airport greenery and wash rental cars. Social outreach programs sponsored by airports can also improve community relations. Tenant agreements would contain minimal performance standards for recycling and waste management. Wireless internet available throughout terminals with ‘you are here’ map apps would increase terminal traffic flow and minimize passenger confusion.

This research explores and evaluates a number of feasible technologies to increase the sustainability of the Kansas City International (KCI) Airport. Based on the literature review, modeling efforts and technology investigations, it has been found that KCI requires 100 Megavolt amperes transformers to meet its energy demand. To offset this cost, 500,000 solar panels covering 102 acres of land would be required. Although the necessary land would be substantial, KCI has the area to develop this solar project in multiples phases. Furthermore, Kansas City is located in the center of America’s wind tunnel, where there is great potential in wind energy expansion. Open land on the outskirts of the airport’s southwest property would be sufficient for a wind farm. On average, KCI uses 1.4 million gallons of water per day. With low flow and sensored water appliances, the airport has the potential to save sixty percent of this water level. Finally, making terminals easier to navigate and less delayed flights would improve overall passenger satisfaction.

Although the investment would be substantial, the benefits from the technology to increase sustainability at KCI and at other airports are both feasible and affordable with a long-term perspective.