Airbus Wants ZEROe To Be 1st Zero-Emission Commercial Aircraft In The World … By 2035 (Videos)


Aviation


Published on September 25th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan





September 25th, 2020 by  


The electric aircraft industry is an odd one to follow. A lot of superlatives are thrown around, but it’s still a baby industry with nothing really in commercial operation. Airbus is throwing in another superlative, and I have to admit that I find the claim a bit dubious.

Airbus wants to develop the “world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft,” but its timeline for doing so is “by 2035.” Electric commercial aircraft aren’t going to be here next year, but I will be shocked if commercial operations don’t begin well before 2035.

Airbus is leaning on hydrogen for this plan. It has three concept aircraft in mind for inaugural commercial electric aircraft, but all three of them rely on hydrogen.

“Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter service by 2035. These concepts, each represent a different approach to achieving zero-emission flight, exploring various technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations in order to support the company’s ambition of leading the way in the decarbonization of the entire aviation industry,” the company notes.

While we here at CleanTechnica have long seen no future for hydrogen in passenger road transport, or any road transport, we remain open minded about its potential for aircraft and marine shipping. Though, I can’t say I’d put money on a hydrogen aircraft startup or initiative. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury has a different opinion, and I admit that he knows tremendously more about aircraft technology than I ever will.

“I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen — both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft — has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact,” Faury states.

Here’s a closer look at the three “ZEROe” concepts:

“A turbofan design (120–200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.”

“A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.”

“A ‘blended-wing body’ design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout.”

One big requirement to get these vehicles into production and operation is for hydrogen fueling infrastructure to be built out for such aircraft. Airbus argues that the industry will need much financial support from governments as well to get off the ground.

Where to from here? Well, there’s a long way to go, but the idea now is to develop these concept aircraft further and hopefully get at least one of them to a pilot phase. “These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035,” said Guillaume Faury. “The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem. 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.”

Images courtesy of Airbus 
 

 


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About the Author

is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao.

Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.











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