Airbus one of the world’s leading players in the Aerospace industry has unveiled plans for what it hailed as the first commercial zero-emission aircraft.
The company has disclosed that it is working hard to see to it that its hydrogen-fuelled passenger planes would be in service by 2035.
Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said the three ZEROe concept designs marked “a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector”.
The use of hydrogen had “the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact”, he added.
One challenge of embracing the concept of “emissions-free” kin all industries, let alone that of aviation is the heavy reliance on finding ways to produce large quantities of hydrogen from renewable or low-carbon sources.
Currently the world of large-scale Hydrogen production relies mostly on fossil fuels, especially methane, and ironically, this is not considered a low-carbon activity.
This is actually not the first time that hydrogen has been touted as the saviour of modern air travel in the quest to rid the industry of its contribution to global pollution and warming.
The use of Hydrogen in aviation goes way back… back to the days of airships in the early 20th Century, the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 unfortunately adversely affected this trend that was then beginning to form, and bringing that era to an end.
From 2000 to 2002 however, Airbus was involved in the EU-funded Cryoplane project, which studied the feasibility of a liquid hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.
Nothing much was made of that study as it was put on hold again – until now.
Airbus’ ‘Decisive action’
The company whiles unveiling its latest blueprints revealed that its turbofan design could carry up to 200 passengers more than 2,000 miles, while a turboprop concept would have a 50% lower capacity and range.
A third, “blended-wing body” aircraft was the most eye-catching of the three designs.
The aim is for all the three plane types to be powered by gas-turbine engines that will be modified to burn liquid hydrogen, and also make use of hydrogen fuel cells to create electrical power for the operations of the craft.
However, Airbus admitted that for the idea to work, airports would have to invest large sums of money in refuelling infrastructure.
“The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem,” said Mr Faury.
“Together with the support from government and industrial partners, we can rise up to this challenge to scale up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.”
The new Airbus designs are as a result of collaborative research project that Airbus launched with EasyJet last year to consider hybrid and electric aircraft.
The airline’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “EasyJet remains absolutely committed to more sustainable flying and we know that technology is where the answer lies for the industry.”
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