In its latest effort to bring public attention to its ‘Zero Emission’ plans, Airbus has unveiled three visual concepts for ‘Zero Emission’ airplanes that will be powered by Hydrogen.
The aircraft manufacturer has set a deadline of 2035 to put a completely carbon-free aircraft into the service. However, engine makers like Safran have already described this as ambitious. This initiative named ‘ZEROe’ include concepts for two rather conventional-looking aircraft; one is a turboprop, which can carry nearly 100 people for 1000 nm and another one is a turbofan jet engine propelled aircraft, which can carry 120-200 people on board with a range of 2000 nm.
However, unlike the conventional aircraft, these ‘Zero Emission’ aircraft would use liquid hydrogen as their fuel. While at the same time Airbus is also working on a demonstrator, with initial results expected by 2021.
The Chief Technology Officer of Airbus has said, “The demonstrator will allow us to assess what the most promising architecture is.” He also added, “We see it as applicable to all Airbus products eventually.”
However, she also said in order to meet the goal of putting a ‘Zero Emission’ aircraft into service by 2035, the aircraft manufacturer will have to select the technology by the end of 2025. On the other hand, various other industry leaders and executives said such a clean break in propulsion might take until 2040.
The main challenge remains to find ways to store the volatile liquid hydrogen during flight hours at freezing temperatures. Airbus, however, has dismissed any of the concerns that hydrogen would be unsafe for this ‘Zero Emission’ aircraft and it has called for a massive investment in this new infrastructure.
Hydrogen has been discussed as the aircraft fuel since the 70s, and it is too expensive for widespread use. And most of the hydrogen that is being used nowadays is being extracted from natural gas, which eventually creates carbon emissions.
Airbus said hydrogen used for their ‘Zero Emission’ aircraft would be produced from renewable energy and can be extracted from water, which is a carbon-free process if powered by renewable energy. However, this process is much more expensive currently
Image Courtesy: Airbus