Airbus aims to evaluate hydrogen-powered engines on a modified A380 in the hopes of bringing lower-emission propellant to commercial air travel. It has announced that a small hydrogen-powered "ZEROe" passenger aircraft will enter service in 2035, and the test flights might begin as early as 2026.
What is a Hydrogen-powered Airplane?
An airplane that runs on hydrogen fuel is known as a hydrogen-powered aircraft. Hydrogen could either be consumed in a jet engine or the other type of combustion engine, or it can be utilized to power a propeller using a fuel cell.
Steps Toward ZEROe Engines
On 22nd January 2022, the European aircraft powerhouse announced that it was working on a test plane. This is a joint venture between the engine manufacturer CFM International, General Electric's aviation division, and France's Safran. It will include a customized form of an existing engine that will have to manage extreme temperatures upon which hydrogen burns.
According to a briefing publicly disclosed last June 2020, Airbus advised the European Union that most passenger planes will rely on classic jet engines till at least 2050.
Despite this, Airbus officials claim that the study will seed disruptive technologies that will likely play a part in the next generation of larger planes, as well as offering fundamentally new technology for small airplanes carrying 50-100 passengers.
The partnership comes as the aviation industry faces increased pressure to reduce emissions and attain zero-emission standards by 2050. Aviation accounted for around 2.4 percent of global emissions before the epidemic forced the suspension of much of the world's flights.
Technicalities of the Aircraft
There are numerous technical obstacles to overcome. At minus 253 degrees Celsius, 400 kg of liquid hydrogen would be held in four tanks. It will be necessary to create a modern cryogenic distribution model.
The hydrogen must first be transformed into a gas, before it is burned. As the gas burns at a significantly greater temperature than ordinary jet fuel, it will necessitate the development of specific cooling and coating materials.
The companies are aiming to have Next-Gen aircraft propulsion systems.
The redesigned aircraft will retain its main four turbines, with a fifth hydrogen-adapted engine positioned on the back fuselage.
To know more about the Next-Gen aircraft propulsion systems market click here.
Commercializing the Green Planes
The aviation industry is split on how quickly companies can bring hydrogen to market. Aside from the difficult engineering issues, considerable investments will be required to increase the supply of "green" hydrogen produced from renewable sources, as well as to change the fuel storage capacity at airports and the associated infrastructure. Detractors argue that the only practical option to greening aviation is to use sustainable fuels.
One major drawback of using hydrogen fuel would be that storing it would require extra equipment, which would add weight to the plane and limit the number of passengers or cargo it could carry.
Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Propulsions
The global next-gen aircraft propulsion system market is gaining traction due to the reduced operational costs, increasing demand for eco-friendly air travel, and increased speeds.
Moreover, investments in alternative energy sources, breakthroughs in next-generation electronic components, and advancements in high-density battery solutions are all crucial drivers that could drive market expansion in the next few years.
The aviation industry will see zero carbon emission aircraft aiming to make the environment of the airplane friendly. Unfortunately, till the time these hydrogen-powered airplanes are commercialized, the aviation industry will continue to use the current systems. Along with time, more competitors will join the prospect and hopefully fasten the process.