Airbus are making bets on hydrogen power to fuel their aircraft with zero-emissions by 2035. Releasing three concepts all fuelled by hydrogen and all with a different approach it’s Airbus’s effort in reaching decarbonisation in an industry that has come under fire from environmentalists, current travel restrictions, and changing social perceptions.
“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,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO. “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.”
One of the biggest challenges Airbus face is existing airport infrastructure currently geared toward exiting fuels and fuelling procedures. Collaboration and cooperation with governments and industrial partners will be crucial.
Each of the three concepts has a different take on flight and usage, the most interesting being the “blended-wing body” design.
If Airbus wanted to make a statement it’s going to do it with the “blended-wing body” design concept where the wings are merged with the main body. Able to fit up to 200 passengers the wide fuselage enables multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and cabin layout.
The turbofan is a transcontinental design with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles using a gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, as opposed to jet fuel, through combustion.
Liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
Hauling up to 100 passengers is the turboprop powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines. It’s capable of travelling 1,000 nautical miles (something like Melbourne to Sydney).
The use of hydrogen has often been talked about as a solution for long-haul road vehicles. With the aeronautical industry—renown for innovation—taking lead, that technological advancement may filter down to lighter vehicles and perhaps influence the direction of passenger vehicles.
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