Airbus, a multinational aerospace corporation, has stated that it is developing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine, with the propulsion system being examined as a possible option for its zero-emissions aircraft. The business stated that its A380 flight test aircraft would be used to test the fuel cell prototype.
If no action is taken, the aviation industry's contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions might increase considerably in the next decades, from 2% to 3%. Several programs are being explored to mitigate the climate impact of the aviation industry, often involving attempts to increase aircraft economy, produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and design aircraft with low or zero-carbon propulsion systems, such as electric or hydrogen.
Hydrogen is seen by some in the industry as a more promising long-term alternative due to its potential to be produced through carbon-free technologies and its energy properties, including substantially more energy per weight than jet fuel.
The company has identified hydrogen as one of the most potential zero-emissions alternatives. It emits no carbon dioxide when generated from renewable energy and produces water as its primary byproduct.
According to the corporation, hydrogen may be used as a power source for aircraft by combustion in a gas turbine or by converting hydrogen to electricity using fuel cells to power a propeller engine.
Glenn Llewellyn, VP Zero-Emission Aircraft at Airbus, said:
"Fuel cells are a potential answer to help us accomplish our zero-emission goal, and we are researching and testing this technology to determine if it is practical and viable for the 2035 entry into service of a zero-emission aircraft."
The company said that the hydrogen fuel-cell engine demonstration will use Airbus' A380 MSN1 flight test aircraft, which is currently being converted to hold liquid hydrogen tanks and the systems needed to get the hydrogen to where it needs to go. The aircraft will be modified outwardly to hold the fuel-cell engine pod and internally with the addition of a cryogenic tank in the rear fuselage to store liquid hydrogen.