Airbus’s ZEROe, Other Projects Coming SoonBy Sofía Hanna | Mon, 02/28/2022 - 16:09
Hydrogen-powered flights are a long-time goal of the aerospace industry that are increasingly closer thanks in part to Airbus’s three ZEROe. These concept aircraft are powered by hydrogen combustion through modified gas turbine engines and aim to become the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. Meanwhile, the ZEROe will allow the company to explore a variety of configurations and hydrogen technologies that will shape future zero-emission aircraft.
The ZEROe concepts include a turbofan, a turboprop and a blended-wing body. In the turbofan aircraft, “two hybrid-hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system are located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.” In Airbus’s turboprop“two hybrid-hydrogen turboprop engines, which drive eight-bladed propellers, provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system are located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.”
Last but not least, Airbus’s blended-wing body concept aircraft has an “exceptionally wide interior (that) opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution. Here, the liquid hydrogen storage tanks are stored underneath the wings. Two hybrid-hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust.” According to Airbus, the Turboprop is expected to carry less than 100 passengers and have a range of 1,000 nautical miles, while the turbofan will have capacity for less than 200 passengers and a range of 2,000 nautical miles.
Airbus also signed a partnership agreement with CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstration program that will take flight at an undetermined time during this decade. This program aims to test flights with a direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen in preparation for the entry-into-service of a zero-emission aircraft by 2035. “This is the most significant step undertaken at Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered flight since the unveiling of our ZEROe concepts back in September 2020,” said Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer, Airbus.
Another achievement was the signing of a Cooperation Agreement with Changi Airport Group in Singapore to study the potential for a future hydrogen hub in the city-state. The collaboration will study the potential transportation and storage of hydrogen in existing and new airports. “The Asia-Pacific region will play a key role as we work towards making climate-neutral aviation a reality… By partnering with Changi Airport and with Incheon Airport, Airbus will leverage the operational and technical expertise of two of the world’s leading hubs. The studies we will carry out together reflect the need for a cross-sectoral approach, including manufacturers, airlines, regulators, airports, energy providers and academia. We need bold and coordinated action to achieve our goals,” said Klauke.
In Mexico, Airbus’s aircraft are currently in use by the country’s ultra-low-cost airlines, Volaris and Viva Aerobus. The latter just received its latest Airbus A321 neo and is waiting for 10 more aircraft.