Reduce to the max – First CO2 neutral Towed Jet Sweepers for Swedish Airports

First CO2 neutral Towed Jet Sweepers for Swedish Airports

Air traffic accounts for approximately 2% of global fossil carbon dioxide emissions. Together with emissions of nitrogen oxides, steam and effects of condensation trails, it is estimated that aviation is responsible for about 3.5% of humankind’s total impact on climate change. It’s not only planes flying from one destination to another but the infrastructure that goes with it, the ground handling, and the  maintenance of the runways and taxiways of the airport such as snow removal. To make your airport operations smart and also green, ASH Group is looking for new technologies to reduce costs as well as emissions.  “Reduce to the max” is the claim for the first CO2 neutral TJS-C (Towed Jet Sweeper – Compact) which was developed 2010 by ASH Group. Since October 2014, 29 of them are now in use at different airports in Sweden.

The state-owned company Swedavia takes on a pioneering role. The aim: to make all 10 airports in Sweden carbon-neutral until 2020. “We want to operate our international hubs almost CO2 neutral”, says Bertil Ekhaga, Senior Manager of machinery at Swedavia. A commendable concept and a challenge for ASH Group. As an international manufacturer and system provider of innovative technical products we feel obliged to support our customers, be a partner for them and want them achieving their goals. In addition to that ASH Group is aware of its social and ecological responsibility with regard to climate issues as these are some of the major challenges we all are facing today.

In partnership with Volvo, ASH Group started therefore to develop what is today the world’s first “Green runway Sweeper (Jet Sweeper TJS). This new TJS is powered by Volvo engines fuelled by a mixture of biogas and biodiesel.

In December 2010 the first prototype of the CO2 neutral snow removal machine series was handed over to Swedavia. In 2014 ASH Group finally delivered a full series of 29 new carbon-neutral machines to Swedavia. “The “Green TJS” brings together sustainability and economy in airport snow removal for the first time. The TJS machines are made for fast, effective, and intensive cleaning of runways, taxiways, aprons and supply roads. This counts also for the Green TJS. High working speed and manoeuvrability are the key issues of this product. It’s about two major issues: sustainability and economic well-being”, says Andreas Schwald, Key Account Manager for Airport Equipment at ASH Group. „The airport operators are happy about any reduction of CO2 emissions. More and more airports are looking for solutions to improve their CO2 balance. It is essentially about two points: sustainability and profitability. Because the pollutant balance also provides information about how efficiently a company operates. It allows to draw conclusions about the energy and resource consumption. Furthermore there is also political pressure. The climate debate does not stop at airports and their operators”.

The Green TJS is powered by Volvo engines fuelled by a mixture of biogas and biodiesel but with this new TJS nothing changes for airport operators or ground handlers. The Green TJS does not differ in power from other TJS machines operating with a conventional Volvo engine. It is equipped with an efficient airport snow plough which produces snow and ice-free surfaces. The hydraulically powered sweeping unit is located under the supporting frame and can be locked lengthwise for transport. The blower unit generates a lateral air flow of up to 145 meters per second over the complete width which blows away the snow across the runway. The Green TJS by Schmidt can operate without refuelling for over six hours and is capable of working in difficult weather conditions over longer periods. Depending upon snow quantity and height the machine can work at a speed of up to 50 km/h.

One Year – Many Experiences

After one year in operation, we have been asking the management of Swedavia for their experiences with the 29 green TJS machines. An interview with Yvonne Björnström, Manager of Swedavia AB:

Could you please explain a little bit about the background / concept underlying the decision to order CO2 neutral towed jet sweepers?

“Swedavia has a goal to be carbon- neutral in 2020. This was a progressive goal decided in 2011. Swedavia had an old fleet of vehicles primarily working with gasoline and diesel. To succeed we decided to work together with suppliers to get new carbon- neutral machines. We decided to have a platform with electricity, biogas and biodiesel. Towed jet sweepers are using 1/3 of Swedavia’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, we started a cooperation with AS and Volvo group to create a carbon- neutral towed jet sweeper.”

In October 2014 you received the first CO2 neutral towed jet sweepers. Could you please tell us about your first experiences with this machine? Do you maybe have some empirical values like how much CO2 you were able to reduce for example?

“We have had the first carbon-neutral towed jet sweepers working for one winter season at five of ten airports. We have been using biodiesel this first year and we have had a reduction of at least 20% fossil carbon dioxide emissions. This winter- season we will use biogas and biodiesel and we calculate to reduce carbon dioxid emissions with 60-80% for the towed jet sweepers.”

How would you describe the co-operation between Swedavia, ASH Group and Volvo? Do you think we listened close enough to your wishes and supported them enough?

“I appreciate the good cooperation and the ability to make things happen. It is great to have such suppliers as we have in this delivery.”

Carbon-neutral snow clearing has been a decisive subject, but what about the functionality, comfort and usability of the machines?

“Our passion is to have satisfied users and punctuality of the airports as our common goal. We have a strong dialog with our users and our suppliers of the machines, to take care of the feedback and give them information of what is going on.”

Swedavia has a leading role at operating carbon-neutral airports. How do you see the future of carbon-neutral airports world-wide?

“The future is green! There are no doubt about creating carbon neutral transportations in the world. I think we are in the beginning of the green transportation era. The customers demand to be able to travel around the world without any negative climate impact. At our airports we have seen a strong growth in domestic and international travelling. At the same time there is a growing awareness of environmental and climate issues. My belief is that these two combined, will make a great demand of green travelling and green airports.”