The European airplane manufacturer AirBus presented their three hydrogen based concepts that within the next 15 years will become the World’s First Zero Emission commercial aircraft! Each of them are representing a quite different approach to the zero emission goal, but all are based on hydrogen as a primary power source, that is a clear sign that AirBus belives this is the only right path to clean aviation fuel!
The projects are named as ZEROe AirBus, and they include:
A turbofan design which can hold between 120-200 passengers and boasts a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally. The concept is powered by a modified gas turbine engine running on hydrogen. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
A turboprop design which can hold up to 100 passengers and uses a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan. The concept is also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas turbine engines and would be capable of more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a well-suited option for short-haul trips.
A blended-wing body design which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft. The concept can hold up to 200 passengers and boasts a similar range to the turbofan concept. The wide fuselage opens multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO: “This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen. The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight. I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
“Battery technology is not moving at the pace we want,” said Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus VP and head of zero-emission aircraft “And this is where hydrogen comes in. It’s got several thousand times more energy per kilogram than batteries could have today.”
Next year, Airbus expects to launch a hydrogen ground demonstrator, which could take-off in demonstration flights in 2023. Safety verification and validation processes, and the development of hydrogen infrastructure on the plane and at airports, would be a long process.
A full-scale aircraft Prototype is estimated to arrive by the late 2020s. Surely that will be one of the most important AirBus Projects being developed in upcoming years!