February 6, 2023
Airbus reveals plans for hydrogen gas cell plane

(CNN) — Airbus has introduced it’s creating a hydrogen-powered gas cell engine — and that it plans to check it on the biggest industrial airplane ever to take to the skies.

The French aviation big revealed at Airbus Summit 2022 on November 30 that it’ll mount the engine between the wings and the tail of a modified A380 superjumbo. Take a look at flights are estimated for 2026, as a part of the Airbus ZEROe initiative to launch a zero-emission plane by 2035.

“By way of aerodynamics, the A380 is a really secure plane. So the pod connected to the rear fuselage by way of the stub does not pose a lot of a difficulty,” stated Mathias Andriamisaina, head of ZEROe demonstrators and exams at Airbus, in a press release.

Airbus had beforehand revealed idea designs for an plane using liquid hydrogen gas and combustion engines, however vice chairman of Zero-Emission Plane Glenn Llewellyn urged gas cells alone could be enough to energy smaller industrial plane.
The engine makes use of gas cells to transform the hydrogen into electrical energy, which then powers a propeller. “At scale, and if the know-how targets have been achieved, gas cell engines could possibly energy a 100-passenger plane with a variety of roughly 1,000 nautical miles,” he stated.
A model of Airbus' ZEROe Fuel Cell Engine, unveiled at the Airbus Summit 2022 on November 30.

A mannequin of Airbus’ ZEROe Gas Cell Engine, unveiled on the Airbus Summit 2022 on November 30.

Hervé Gousse/Airbus SAS

The journey to decarbonize air journey

Hydrogen has lengthy been touted as a sustainable various to conventional jet gas, both as a flamable gas or used to generate electrical energy by way of gas cells. The aviation trade produces 2.8% of world CO2 emissions but it surely faces tougher challenges than different sectors in decarbonizing itself, and progress has been sluggish.
Whereas hydrogen-powered plane have been in growth for the reason that mid-Twentieth Century, they’ve confronted vital obstacles, primarily hydrogen’s low power density in comparison with kerosene, and the latter’s availability and traditionally low worth.
The infrastructure required to provide and distribute hydrogen can also be a difficulty. At Airbus Summit, Airbus boss Guillaume Faury warned that this was “a giant concern” and it might derail the corporate’s plans to introduce a hydrogen-powered plane by 2035.
Airbus has previously announced a variety of hydrogen-powered airplane concepts as part of its ZEROe program, including the Blended Wing Body.

Airbus has beforehand introduced a wide range of hydrogen-powered airplane ideas as a part of its ZEROe program, together with the Blended Wing Physique.


However hydrogen might change into a key asset in industrial aviation even earlier than completely new plane based mostly round it are developed. Days earlier than Airbus’ announcement, Rolls-Royce and finances airline EasyJet stated they’d efficiently transformed a daily airplane engine to run on liquid hydrogen gas — a world first, they declare.
The bottom check concerned a kind of Rolls-Royce engine presently utilized in industrial and navy airplanes, and a second check is already deliberate. Subsequent, the trial will broaden to a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engine, which is used to energy Bombardier enterprise jets able to long-haul flight.
Rolls-Royce AE2100 Hydrogen Demonstrator engine preparing for test at RAF Boscombe Down

Rolls-Royce AE2100 Hydrogen Demonstrator engine getting ready for check at RAF Boscombe Down

Courtesy Rolls-Royce plc

Future gas

The gas for Rolls-Royce’s check was sourced from wind and tidal power, an instance of “inexperienced” hydrogen.

Inexperienced hydrogen is usually derived by way of the electrolysis of water — utilizing electrical energy to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen — and utilizing renewably sourced electrical energy to take action. “Grey” hydrogen makes use of non-renewable electrical energy, whereas “blue” hydrogen is much like grey, however captures a lot of the carbon emitted in manufacturing. Inexperienced hydrogen is taken into account the cleanest possibility.
How the hydrogen is utilized additionally creates a unique footprint. Burning liquid hydrogen within the open-air releases a small quantity of greenhouse gasoline nitrous oxide. Utilizing inexperienced hydrogen to generate electrical energy in a gas cell, nevertheless, emits solely water and heat air.

The following decade will reveal which of the hydrogen applied sciences will take off. Both could be a constructive step in securing the long-term viability of low-carbon air journey.

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