Airbus looks to hydrogen planes for future

Plans for zero-emission commercial aircraft have been outlined by Airbus including its new ZEROe hydrogen concept.

The three plane concepts, which use zero emission technology to reduce emissions by up to 50%, include a turboprop-powered airliner with six-bladed propellers and a “blended-wing body”.

The hydrogen propulsion planes, which are aiming for 2035 release, could reduce emissions of CO2 by 50%, according to the manufacturer’s internal calculations. The planes will be powered by modified gas-turbine engines that burn liquid nitrogen as fuel. At the same time, they also use hydrogen fuel cells to create electrical power that complements the gas turbine, resulting in a highly efficient hybrid-electric propulsion system. 

But each option has a slightly different approach to integrating the liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system. Airbus engineers have conceptualised integration solutions that carefully take into account the challenges and possibilities of each type of aircraft. 

Speaking about the launch of the aircraft, Airbus VP, zero emission aircraft, Glenn Llewellyn, said: “As recently as five years ago, hydrogen propulsion wasn’t even on our radar as a viable emission-reduction technology pathway.

“But convincing data from other transport industries quickly changed all that. Today, we’re excited by the incredible potential hydrogen offers aviation in terms of disruptive emissions reduction.” 

AirbusZEROe Turbofan Concept
AirbusZEROe Blendedwingbody Concept 2

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