Airbus unveils three ideas for hydrogen-powered industrial planes

The three ideas all have totally different designs for various industrial markets.


Zero-emission cars at the moment are so frequent they’re nearly boring, however zero-emission airplanes are one other matter. They do exist — Seattle-based Matrix Aviation flew the largest electric aircraft over Washington state this yr — however they are a great distance from carrying paying passengers.

However Airbus needs to play a task when that day arrives. The aerospace firm final week unveiled three concepts for hydrogen-powered aircraft, with designs that vary from downright standard to radically totally different.

Although a flying machine powered by hydrogen could look like a worrying idea for anybody who is aware of the Hindenburg disaster, at this time’s hydrogen plane work on safer and confirmed applied sciences like hydrogen gas cells not too totally different from the ones that power cars. That is the case for California startup ZeroAvia, which achieved the first flight of a hydrogen-powered commuter plane within the UK on Sunday.

Airbus plans to include hydrogen power another way. The hydrogen-hybrid plane are powered by modified gasoline turbine engines that burn liquid hydrogen as gas. In addition they use hydrogen gas cells to create electrical energy that enhances the gasoline turbine.

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“As just lately as 5 years in the past, hydrogen propulsion wasn’t even on our radar as a viable emission-reduction expertise pathway,” Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus vice chairman of zero-emission plane, stated in a statement. “However convincing knowledge from different transport industries shortly modified all that. Right this moment, we’re excited by the unimaginable potential hydrogen presents aviation when it comes to disruptive emissions discount.”

This is an summary of the three ideas (all pictured above):

  • The most important principally resembles an current Airbus A321. It has two hybrid-hydrogen turbofan engines with the liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system positioned behind the rear stress bulkhead.
  • Almost certainly meant for commuter routes, an idea that appears a bit like a De Havilland Dash 8 would have two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines every driving eight-bladed propellers. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system would even be positioned behind the rear stress bulkhead.
  • The final idea is essentially the most radical, nevertheless it’s one thing we have seen earlier than. It requires the blended wing MAVERIC design that Airbus flew as a pilotless demonstrator in February. Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines present thrust with the liquid hydrogen storage tanks saved beneath the wings.

If all goes nicely in its growth program, Airbus stated full-scale prototypes may very well be prepared by the tip of the last decade with industrial service beginning by 2035. 

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