Airbus readies hydrogen-powered demo flights

Update, Feb. 21: Airbus announced today a press conference tomorrow in Toulouse.

By Scott Hamilton

One concept of where hydrogen tanks could be located.

Feb. 8, 2022, (c) Leeham News: Airbus plans to fly a hydrogen-fueled ZEROe demonstrator soon, with an announcement coming as early as this month.

Airbus’ drive to reduce emissions appears prioritized toward developing an H2-fueled airplane. While all it’s A-Series aircraft will be 100% compatible with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) by 2030—they’re 50% compatible today—hydrogen is at the forefront of its research and development. Officials want to have an H2-powered airplane ready for service by 2035. This aircraft will almost certainly be a turboprop.

Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology of Airbus, said the company must have a demonstration project proving the feasibility of an H2-fueled airplane before full development can proceed. She told the audience at the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance yesterday that an announcement could come within two weeks. In sideline remarks, she declined to say what type of aircraft will be used for the demo project.

Nothing more to add

An Airbus spokesman said separately, “We’re working toward demonstration programs to mature a number of different technologies related to hydrogen-powered concepts, but we don’t have anything more specific that that to share at the moment. We may have some interesting projects to talk about later this year, though.”

During her presentation, Simpson outlined several jet concepts that could use hydrogen fuel. A turboprop concept also has been previously shown. Simpson said that H2-powered flights previously were undertaken by the US Air Force and a Soviet airliner, some dating to 1957.

61 Comments on “Airbus readies hydrogen-powered demo flights

  1. Exciting times ahead!

    As an enthusiast, I hope executives will encourage project managers and engineers to share as much data as possible; verified results, retired risks, outstanding challenges, new insights – everything! 🙂

    • No worries, its EU funded and we will be swamped with what we know.

      The only aspect unknown is (if) there is an implementation method and what that achieves or does not.

      Obviously it can be done, it has been.

    • Hope it’s designed to land as a glider with the tail section blown off.
      Just H2 for APU fuel cells powered with water exhaust to give more potable water.
      P&WA, Rolls Royce & Boeing say that SFA are the future not H2.

      • *Cuán inflamable es éste hidrógeno , en comparación con el querosene de alto octanage utilizado en la actualidad?
        *Es posible reducir el espacio que ocupan los tanques de hidrógeno , según muestra el diseño ?
        * Cuál es el peso de éste hidrógeno , ya sea por volumen o por m2 , en relación al del combustible actual ?

        From Google tranlate:

        *How flammable is this hydrogen, compared to the high octane kerosene used today?
        *Is it possible to reduce the space occupied by hydrogen tanks, as shown in the design?
        * What is the weight of this hydrogen, either by volume or by m2, in relation to the current fuel?

  2. The russians spend considerable R&D money decades back, with the flying Hydrogen Tu-155 being the most visible one.

    Apparently the germans and russians would close on projects in the erly nineties. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/images/tu-cryogenic-image1.gif

    https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/aircraft-cryogenic.htm

    I guess for research a 3-4 engined aircraft would be most practical with a single hydrogen engine for testing. Maybe an A340.

    • I think it was a methane powered Tu-155 but the gases are similar in some ways being lighter than air as a gas thereby alleviating safety issues. Hopes for cooperation, friendship and trade were indeed high. There were plans for a hydrogen powered Dornier Do 322Jet with tanks in pods under the wings and also a A310 with a dorsal tank.
      Russia could have been brought into the Western Sphere. They wanted it. The German defence minister was passionate about purchasing the Antonov AN-70 (for European manufacture) instead of the A400M. Antonov proposed a “westernised” version of the An-70, the An-7X. The German government tasked DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) with the responsibility of evaluating the An-70 and assessing whether it would fulfil the ESR for a common tactical airlifter.
      It sadly fell apart as the West broke its Glasnost promise not to expand NATO and the anger of some western banks that Russian state assets weren’t privatised.
      Interestingly the Progress D27 propfan has already achieved some of the objectives of RISE. The engine met all of the highest western civil noise requirements.

      • “ Russian state assets weren’t privatised”?
        They were. Guess were all the Russian oligarchs did get their wealth from.
        “Glasnost promise”?
        Sorry, wrong chat for stupid lies.

        • What’s in a name? What is the difference between a “Russian Oligarch” and an “American Banker” also referred to as Bankster by elements of both the right and left in the US.

          • The same process for RU or the US:
            Transfer public property into private ownership.

            Only for the SU/RU it was a much more cataclysmic process in a compact timeframe.

        • Antonov was born in Moscow Oblast and worked his way over 2..3 design places (Leningrad, Tuschino, ..) towards Novosibirsk where he got his own bureau. this was later post WWII transferred to Kiev as structural improvement for the region.
          dissolution of the Soviet Union left Antonov in Ukraine.

          • Yes.

            But it is about the time when the ”westernisation“ was an issue until today.

  3. There needs to be a cooperation between Airbus, Safran, ESA, Arianespace, EASA on how the LH2 system can/should be designed to be safe with certification rules. Initially I expect lots of Ariane 6 Rocket LH2 parts with life limits but as work progresses these are made cheaper and with longer certified lives. As the parts might be dual use for ICBM missiles and ITAR regulations it will be a massive work before anything commercial is certified and sold “everywhere”.

    • As its purely driven by economics, its not going to sell unless mandated.

      I don’t see a need there, its going to happen as long as the EU keeps up the funding, they will pull in from all sources available, space, auto etc.

      Airbus would not be doing this without EU funding.

      • And on the subject of US funding of Hydrogen projects:

        “The US Department of Energy (DoE) on Tuesday launched the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations with $21.5bn in federal funding – the biggest single slice of which goes to green hydrogen – in a bid to realise the largest number of innovative carbon-free technology projects at scale in the nation’s history.”

        https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/out-of-the-lab-green-hydrogen-biggest-winner-as-us-forms-21bn-office-of-clean-energy-demonstrations/2-1-1134259

      • No renewable can ever compete with pumping oil out of the ground at well under 9 cents/litre production cost so regulations or fees or subsidies or taxes will be needed. Unavoidable. That works out at 1c per KW.Hr. Nuclear is at the moment in the US generated at 1.0c/kw.hr according to the EIA inclusive decommissioning costs.
        PS do you prefer me to put it in foot pounds energy?😀. I bet you can use a slide rule. I can only use log tables.

        • Yes, without new regulations or steep world market price increases nothing will happen. EU could say that sales of jet fuel for flights shorter than 1000km is forbidden from 2040 and SAF for the others (with EASA certification regulations for electrical or LH2 passenger aircrafts issued before 2030) and that is what you can tank at the airports. Then the airlines will scream for government support to place new aircraft orders.

          • As you point out regulations are needed but we already have them and there is not need for heavy handed taxes.
            The ICAO CORISA regulations are all we need. They mandate that the Airlines of Member states achieved a reduction in emissions per passenger every year or ton kilometre per year according to a formula and audit process. If the airline doesn’t achieve that they have to pay for carbon offsets or buy a higher grade of SAF to compensate in some way. They do get fined if they don’t fix it. It’s up to the airline to decide how to achieve this.
            -They can choose to buy more efficient aircraft or higher grades of SAF or even add in Hydrogen or Electric aircraft to their fleet.
            This even allows them to keep a few older aircraft around but simply not use them much. The regulations do mandate certain CO2 emissions limit for new build aircraft from Jan 1st 2028, hence why Boeing needs the B777-8F
            The annual reductions regulations are active now but voluntary till end of 2027 but any airline that is running an old fleet and hasn’t lined up a SAF supply will be in a world of pain.
            The plan is now to have SAF at 65% by 2050. It’s likely we will see hydrogen in service from 2035 or earlier, accelerating the process.

          • William:

            Try to make that work in the US or China and good luck

          • @Transworld, There are now 104 member states to the ICAO CORSIA plan including the USA and China. The big guys in IATA can smell the coffee and are on board as well. Membership calls for the member states to enact enforcement legislation. Exactly where the US or China are on this I’m not sure since some states are at different stages or voluntary.
            -The recent “Toulouse Declaration” means that any airline or airfreight company flying into or out of the EU must comply with all legs of the Journey and maybe even be compliant as a company.
            I’m assuming that if some airline in the US for instance fails to do a compliant audit it will be fined. If it fails to meet targets it will need to pay for offset or it will be fined. I imagine lenience will be shown if the compliance failure was caused by say late delivery of an efficient MAX or neo or a SAF shortage.

          • @TW, Airbus cancels some Qatar A350-1000 orders, is the “Double sunset A350-1000” with its payload-range so good and environmentally friendly that Airbus calculates that it will be cheaper flying nonstop and most flights will bypass the middle east (Qatar, Dubai) and they will not be competitive anymore?

  4. All Airbus can do is develop hydrogen powered demonstrator aircraft and the refuelling technology that will eventually lead to a plausible passenger aircraft.
    It can not develop renewable energy infrastructure apart from maybe making sure an electrolyser plant for small airports exists.
    This is a daunting task. A standard A320neo carries over 20,000 Litres of Jet Fuel. Each 1000 Litre of Jet fuel contains 8MW.Hr of energy and at 80% efficiencies for electrolysis and liquefaction some 10MW hours for each 1000L and 200MW.Hr would be required to create it. To put this in context 8 x 2.5MW wind turbines averaging 1MW power output would be needed. These wind turbines would have a rotor diameter of 92m and a hub height of 92m. A single wind turbine about 2.7 times bigger (250m) diameters offshore might do the job. Something the size of a New York skyscraper for a single fuel load.
    It’s not that dismal, a calculation was done here in Sydney Australia that if every roof top was covered in solar it would be possible to power the entire state (which has twice the population again).
    Hydrogen can be exported by ships carrying it in compressed form or cryogenic form.

    My belief however is that most of this hydrogen will be “Blue Hydrogen” made from fossil fuels with the CO2 sequestered underground or undersea in geological structures. Oil wells, old, depleted or new are perfect for this. It’s only a matter of piping the CO2 there or building the plant there.

    Nuclear will be needed I am certain.

    • “Nuclear will be needed I am certain.”

      Nuclear is already needed: the increased natural gas demand in Europe and Asia this year have highlighted how unreliable / unpredictable wind and solar are.

      But your comment highlights the fact that switching to renewables for transport is, in fact, only passing the buck to the people responsible for generating electricity — which, invariably, is at government level. In essence, the kink in the carpet is just being pushed to a corner of the room, where someone else can deal with it. In that respect, it’s time for governments to present citizens with a clear choice: either continue the way things are and just accept the CO2 disaster unfolding around us, or switch to (thorium and SMR) nuclear to generate the green electricity needed to support a transition to a low-carbon society. Wind/solar can supplement that, if desired, but they’re not capable of being an energy backbone in most countries.

    • I’m afraid you are right. We need lots of energy to replace coal/gas/oil powered plants / transport that dominate today. Nucleair seems the only way to provide those gigawatts in a reliable, feasible way. Tons of window dressing by new energy industry lobbies won’t prevent reality kicking in for too far ahead.

      • Not all oil/natural gas for heating need to be sourced somewhere else as ground heat pumps from holes +100m deep are replacing oil heating at a fast pace. Still governments must coordinate taxes, availability, subsidises and electrical power before ordering a massive transition. Normally they chicken out…

        • Heat pumps whether ground(geothermal), air or roof top heat exchange certainly have a big potential it only improves consumption in the electricity sector and heating. I’m assuming about 25% heating energy reduction in Europe with a COP of 4.2 or so. Cogeneration, where a Stirling engine or fuel cell generates electricity and the waste heat is used is another. I simply can’t see it is enough. Perhaps, I’m taking a rough estimate after looking at the breakups, they would reduce the increase in renewables required from 20:1 to 15:1 needed to cover transport, heating and chemical manufacturing.

          • Heat pumps require electricity

            Electricity comes from Natural Gas, Nuke, coal, solar and wind.

            The first two are not environmentally onerous (not a lot of digging though Uranium requires mines). Natural gas is the least up front costly.

            Nukes are the major question of where do you put the waste? In that regard its like coal ash, it keeps haunting you forever.

          • -Heat pumps certainly require electricity but the plan would be to operate the heat pumps mainly when direct renewable “off peak” energy was available using smart networks. Several hours to several days of heat can be stored as hot water to smooth delivery. If heating were required when no renewable energy were flowing the switch to burning hydrogen can be made. A more refined version would use cogeneration where a hydrogen fuel cell or say small engine (Stirling, steam etc) generates electricity with the waste heat.
            -These systems can work on an individual house but it would be more common to apply it to an apartment complex or ‘district heating’. In the Scandinavian countries the water is pumped around the district at 20C (to minimise heat loss) and then boosted to heating levels by a heat pump in the house or apartment complex. The heat comes from a geothermal bore or geothermal hot water (if available) or waste heat from a municipal garbage dump etc.
            -Electricity production in this scenarios would be sustained by combined cycle turbine plant burning a mix of green and blue hydrogen. Batteries providing 1/2 an hour to 4 hours backup might be included to minimise and smooth turbine plant start-up and stabilise the network.
            -Certainly a lot of effort and complexity but a lot less than just making excess renewable energy.

      • “Tons of window dressing by new energy industry lobbies won’t prevent reality kicking in for too far ahead.”

        Strangely, I find that it’s actually the nuclear lobbies doing the window dressing and trying to put down renewable in much the same way that fossil lobbies have been doing the last 50 years or so.
        Additionally, the nuclear lobby keeps pretending that a) all those age-old issues have now been resolved (really, really, pinky promise, contrary to those broken promises over the last 40+ years) and that b) nuclear – even in its current standards, not the groundbreaking, new, unproven, issue-solving incarnation – can be scaled up quickly enough to have any meaningful impact on the required transformation away from fossil fuels.

    • “My belief however is that most of this hydrogen will be “Blue Hydrogen” made from fossil fuels with the CO2 sequestered underground or undersea in geological structures. Oil wells, old, depleted or new are perfect for this. It’s only a matter of piping the CO2 there or building the plant there.

      Nuclear will be needed I am certain.”

      Two issues with these approaches…
      Firstly: Blue hydrogen… That, to me, defeats the purpose, at least if done at scale (i.e. I’m not talking about early demonstrations). If I use fossil fuel to produce hydrogen to power planes – why use hydrogen to begin with? You lose *a lot* of power efficiency by using gas/oil to create hydrogen. And you still have to take care of the CO2 produced in the process. Sequestering CO2 underground or whatever is not really something that so far has been successfully done at the scale needed here.

      Secondly: Nuclear. A few issues here. Honestly, I can see how generating hydrogen by using nuclear power from power plants that already exist might make some limited sense for a while. I mean… nuclear is far from CO2 neutral, but of course way better in that sense than coal or gas.

      But: To satisfy the additional hydrogen demand for transportation alone, additional capacity would be needed, and I simply cannot see nuclear scaling up quickly enough. By which I mean: Within the next 5-10 years max.

      Never mind that there are some underlying issues with nuclear which still haven’t been resolved in the 60-odd years of commercial nuclear power generation. (The two main ones being: Final storage for nuclear waste, and safety/impact of any major incident, which in turn leads to basically no insurance company actually covering the risks of a nuclear power plant. I.e. “insurance cover” is provided by the respective country’s government.)

      But even sticking with traditional nuclear power plants and ignoring the waste/insurance problem for a while, I can’t see nuclear scaling up quickly enough. And the reason is simple: The track record of nuclear power plants built over the last couple of decades.
      At this point, three EU countries are building new nuclear power plants:
      Slovakia – 2 under construction since 1987, go-live expected in 2022/23 (after ~35 years!), total budget ~€5.5bn. Way over budget/time, and basically outdated technology at this point, lacking in various areas.
      France – 1 under construction since 2007, go-live expected in 2023 (after ~16 years), total budget ~€13bn. Approx. 11 years and €10bn more than planned.
      Finland – 1 under construction since 2005), go-live expected in 2022 (after ~17 years), total budget ~€9bn. Approx. 13 years and €6bn more than planned.
      Two reactors of the same type as the Finnish and French ones were built in China, already taking lessons learned into account – their conctruction still took about 10 years each and went over budget (although there is a bit less transparency about that bit for some reason).
      And these (not including the one in Slovakia) are “just” introducing refinements of existing pressurised water reactor technology. Those refinements were developed in the early 1990s.
      They’re not employing a groundbreakingly new approach like the proposed reactors. Two reactors of the same type were built in China, already taking lessons learned into account – their conctruction still took about 10 years each.

      Now, a lot of what is being proposed (waste-consuming reactors, and there is always fusion to look forward to) has been proposed for 40+ years and never made it to production, at least with Western safety standards.
      Looking at the development cycle, construction time and cost required for those Finnish and French reactors, I have a really hard time seeing how any new nuclear technology that actually solves those age-old concerns would be anywhere near ready for use at scale within the next 10-20 years. I.e. it will arrive too late to solve any of the energy issues that need to be resolved in the next 5-10 years max.

      • SMRs can be built much more quickly than regular nuclear power plants. Moreover, much of the delay involved in building regular power plants has to do with ancillary issues such as (endless) lawsuits and budgetary considerations.

        Thorium salt reactors greatly reduce the safety and waste problems associated with regular fission. Where waste is concerned, they produce about 1% of the quantity of regular fission reactors, and the waste products have a much shorter half life (order of decades).

        Where wind/solar are concerned: these also have hidden costs and time overhead in the form of the grid upgrade necessary to carry extra power out of areas in which its generation was never foreseen, e.g. rooftop solar panels in housing estates. In the Netherlands, the grid is already saturating due to this problem, and power distribution authorities are asking for a halt to new solar panel installation.

        A shift in public and government mindset is required to make this transition happen more quickly.

        • – “Moreover, much of the delay involved in building regular power plants has to do with ancillary issues such as (endless) lawsuits and budgetary considerations.”

          That’s an interesting way to put it. Do those lawsuits and “budgetary considerations” (cost cuts) exist in some kind of vacuum, without stemming from anything and leading to nothing? Of course not.

          I live in Finland, and have been following the construction process of Olkiluoto 3 pretty closely. The companies building the plant took shortcuts to cut costs (“budgetary considerations”), and that led to manufacturing defects, which led to lawsuits. Cheap labour, rushed planning, missing documents, firing of workers who revealed manufacturing defects and so on. The promised turnkey price was unrealistic (to get the construction permission from the Finnish parliament), and at the same time the nuclear industry isn’t able to get the hidden support it used to get from the governments. Tightened economics and increased competition in the energy sector have changed things. The field is more open and scrutinized now. As a consequence, companies don’t seem to be able to build nuclear power plants profitably anymore. As a result, French tax payers are paying the most of the Olkiluoto 3’s total construction cost of over 11 billion (so far).

          Corruption is also coming to daylight. An example is the case of formerly Areva owned, now Framatome owned Creusot forge, which manufactures large and critical nuclear reactor parts. It was revealed some years ago that the company has forged manufacturing documents and test results all the way from the sixties, and sold bad components as good. Because of that the French nuclear safety authority ASN inspected all the French nuclear reactors for fake parts, and noticed that there are them in several nuclear reactors. For example the steel used for the pressure vessel of the Flamanville 3 (under construction) is too weak. ASN declared that the plant isn’t safe to use, but the French government overrun ASN, and gave the Flamanville go ahead.

          • Ademeion:

            Great write up. I am beginning to think (gasp) the US is not the only part of the world that has problems!

            One aspect that has to be (or should be) fully understood.

            There are 8000 hours in a year.

            You come up with a good Nuke idea (acualy anything but lets focus on Nukes).

            You test it for a year, but that does not tell you what happens at year ten, twenty, thirty etc.

            As I recall the French were asking the US for help with the China power plant problems because the US had expertise in the area at issue.

            You are building power plants with design principles you don’t understand? Wow.

          • Regarding lawsuits:
            In most countries, the mere announcement of nuclear plans precipitates a barrage of lawsuits from environmental groups — and these are generally fought out right up to the highest available judiciary body. Such deliberate frustration tactics tend to delay nuclear projects by up to a decade, depending on the legal system involved. Delays such as this necessarily cause cost overruns.

            Regarding corruption:
            The nuclear program in NL has not experienced this problem. I also haven’t heard of such issues in the UK program, for example. It seems to be exception rather than rule.

          • “As I recall the French were asking the US for help with the China power plant problems because the US had expertise in the area at issue.”

            interesting interpretation.
            What I could find is that the US asserted themselves without being invited. ( What surprise, having at China and the French, what fun.)

            https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/design-flaw-could-explain-problem-edfs-chinese-nuclear-plant-ngo-2021-11-29/

            Whistle blower thing.
            Lets see how this develops.

          • @ Bryce

            – “In most countries, the mere announcement of nuclear plans precipitates a barrage of lawsuits from environmental groups.”

            Plans for any large scale energy production and infrastructure brings lawsuits; coal, hydro, wind, power lines etc.. You can’t build new highways or residential districts without lawsuits either. That’s how it is, and you just have to cope with it.

            – “Such deliberate frustration tactics tend to delay nuclear projects by up to a decade”

            Up to a decade? If they can’t take it, they should grow a pair ;-). Cape Wind project was fought for in courts for sixteen years, and it ultimately lost.

            – “The nuclear program in NL has not experienced this problem.”

            Corruption never exists before it’s revealed. It may be that there’s isn’t corruption in the nuclear sector in the Netherlands, but I think it would be wiser to say “I assume it doesn’t exist, because I haven’t heard of it, but I don’t really know” (as don’t I).

            – “I also haven’t heard of such issues in the UK program…”

            I know this is different from what you meant, but in a way the corruption in the UK nuclear industry happens in the broad daylight. UK government promotes nuclear projects and supports players who shouldn’t be supported. Serious problems has also been swept under the carpet for decades there (Sellafield being a striking example). Perhaps the tide has already turned in the UK, though, as new nuclear power plant projects have mostly been discarded there in recent years.

            There are more obvious example than the UK, though.

            South Korea:
            https://academic.oup.com/jwelb/article/13/1/47/5837954?login=false

            USA:
            https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/nuclear-industry-politics-bribes-corruption-and-lies

            France:
            See my previous comment

            Brazil:
            https://wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/835/brazils-nuclear-power-program-undone-corruption

            You can find more about nuclear industry corruption in these and many other countries in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021. It’s a highly regarded source of nuclear industry information:
            https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2021-.html

            Going from corruption to nuclear industry in general and the energy future, I find this article to be very interesting (and authoritative):
            Former Nuclear Leaders: Say ‘No’ to New Reactors
            https://www.powermag.com/blog/former-nuclear-leaders-say-no-to-new-reactors/

          • @ Ademeion
            Your assertion that:
            “Plans for any large scale energy production and infrastructure brings lawsuits; coal, hydro, wind, power lines etc.. You can’t build new highways or residential districts without lawsuits either. That’s how it is, and you just have to cope with it.”

            renders your original point moot, namely that nuclear construction is too slow, and that wind/solar will be needed for a fast energy transition. As you point out, wind/solar are also subject to delaying lawsuits — in fact, that’s already happening in NL, where residents are now increasingly against placement of wind turbines. Solar is fine, were it not for the (very slow and expensive) grid upgrade needed to carry extra current out of residential areas — and, of course, the fact that solar doesn’t generate anything at night.

            Thankfully, we have thorium salt reactors to save us — although it will be a hard sell to the entrenched anti-nuclear lobby, which hasn’t done its homework.
            Here’s an informative link:

            https://www.thmsr.com/en/clean/

            As regards “corruption”: do you really think that that only occurs in the nuclear industry?

          • @Bryce:
            “@ Ademeion
            Your assertion that:
            “Plans for any large scale energy production and infrastructure brings lawsuits; coal, hydro, wind, power lines etc.. You can’t build new highways or residential districts without lawsuits either. That’s how it is, and you just have to cope with it.”

            renders your original point moot, namely that nuclear construction is too slow, and that wind/solar will be needed for a fast energy transition. ”

            Not really, because the time these kinds of lawsuits drag out tend to be longer than for windmills, solar, etc. – PLUS delays are not only due to lawsuits, but also due to technical issues. And those are nowehere near as prevalent with wind/solar/hydro power than they are with nuclear and thus don’t lead to anywhere near the same kind of delays.

        • “SMRs can be built much more quickly than regular nuclear power plants.”

          Firstly: How so? How would they not be subject to the same safety standards, permission processes etc. as regular reactors? So instead of trying to certify one big power plant you build 10 SMRs… and multiply the bureaucracy and lawsuits involved.

          Secondy: Given how any sort of non-nuclear power plant and even windmills and solar parks have issues with regard to local communities accepting them (NIMBY and so on), I really do think SMRs are a non-starter in a lot of places. And we haven’t even been talking about “do we really want SMRs all over places like Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and so on?”

      • -Thankyou for your thoughtful post.
        -Blue Hydrogen can be manufactured with high efficiency from coal, oil or natural gas using very established processes. There may be a 20% loss in energy but from the point of view of climate change all that matters is that the CO2 doesn’t enter the atmosphere.
        -Blue hydrogen, mixed with green hydrogen, would perhaps allow a hydrogen supply network to be established much earlier (perhaps decades?) allowing Airbus to deploy its aircraft, power plants to make electricity, iron and steel to smelt emissions free as well as providing a backbone for excess renewables to dump into.
        -The problems of the nuclear industry are to an extent its own fault. The early nuclear pioneers advised that the scaling up of PWR Pressurised Water Reactors beyond 60MW would lead to complexities and safety issues. Beyond this size forced cooling is needed and the possibility of an powerful explosive expansion of steam that has to be engineered for. Expediency and perhaps hubris lead to the development of 1.2GW monsters.
        -However there is a return to the original idea, now refered to as a SMR Small Modular Reactor. NuScale with luck should start up a 60MW unit in 2026 which can then be mass produced in certified factories, transported to site erected customisation. No pumps are required. 8 small units instead of 1 large.
        -Rolls Royce also are working on nuclear submarined derived SMR as mentioned by Sir Tim Clarke in an recent article.

        -There is no time for anything else but SMR.
        -Blue hydrogen, SMR, renewables combined perhaps will be enough to get to net zero by 2050. Alone non I feel is enough.

        -The early pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s also wanted to develop reactors capable of reprocessing and transudation of wastes often based on thorium cycles and molten salt which have superb safety.
        -I do not think that the current level of nuclear waste is an issue. It can be cooled of, solidified and deep buried in igneous rocks.
        -The rest is political. The German greens for instance have a Marcusian ideology which conflates racism, nuclear war, sexism, capitalism, transphobia with nuclear energy. You cant fight university, school indoctrination.
        -Its a daunting task to make electricity generation renewable. Now multiply that by 3-4 for the rest of the energy used by the planet, including aviation.
        -Blue hydrogen is part of the solution, if only interim, I suspect.

        • Can be, would be, should be.

          Reality has a nasty habit of raising its head for what is.

          • Yes, reality certainly raised its head in the case of the KC-46 and F35, didn’t it?
            On paper –> Lots of promises, shiny new tech, extra performance.
            In reality –> Broken promises, malfunctioning tech, sub-par performance…essentially an endless litany of flaws, years of delays, ballooning costs…one disillusion after another.

            It seems to depend on who’s doing the innovating, and on their priorities and resources.

      • Uh! Before the part of a plane with more survivor chances were the rear part! Now the rear part becomes the bomb! But certainly it will happen and I’ll will fly on it!

        • The safety record of hydrogen seems excellent and in fact better than conventional fuels. The high energy upper stages (eg Apollo, Arianne, Centaur) have performed well. The Challenger tragedy was caused by a seal failure in a solid rocket booster shooting a jet of flame into the fuel tank. It wouldn’t have mattered if the main tank was filled with hydrogen, kerosene. hydrazine or red fuming nitric acid.
          In a survivable crash with a tank rupture there will be advantages to a fuel that floats up ad doesn’t pool and is confined to a section of the aircraft away from passengers. I seems an easy fuel to dump rapidly and I think tanks will be designed to distort rather than rupture.

  5. Although the fuselage of an A321 would lend itself well for such a test aircraft (plenty of room at the back for hydrogen tanks, and still with a good number of passengers), I suspect that use will be made of a modified ATR — probably an ATR72, since it’s also got a long fuselage.
    We’ll know soon enough.

    • Converting the most popular and widely produced airliner in the world, the A320 series, to cryogenic hydrogen gives special bragging rights. On the other hand any mishap would unfairly taint things. An ATR72 is just about right.

        • -Airbus seems to be pursuing cryogenic hydrogen with either gas turbines but with an eye towards fuel cells, possibly superconducting motors and conductors. Not surprising considering the size , speed and distance the aircraft they make must fly.
          -Using gaseous compressed hydrogen in both automobiles and aircraft because of the astonishing progress in making lightweight polymer tanks able to operate at 700bar/10,000psi. A converted ATR-72 or Q300 would seem capable of 400km to 600km flights which is where these aircraft normally operate.

          -Australia is now exporting cryogenic blue hydrogen to Japan but another ship by the company GWE is going to be exporting gaseous compressed hydrogen in 2000-4000 ton batches this year as well.
          -The technology of gaseous compressed hydrogen maritime shipping shows it can be effective to a radius of 4500nmi.
          -It seems easier to set up the infrastructure.

  6. This is fantastic. Congratulations to the Airbus team and I truly believe they are now the aerospace leaders for innovation and on the forefront for technical expertise.
    Boeing? They are still trying to figure how to get the 20 year program called the 787 figured out (picture scratching heads) and if a TIA is in the future for the 777X.

    The 737 program is now in its 55th year…. Something to think about.

  7. “Airbus’ drive to reduce emissions appears prioritized toward developing an H2-fueled airplane. ”

    Scott:

    I think that should be changed from APPEARS. It is their focus.

    How realistic that is has been discussed, but the source funding and direction form EU not Airbus.

    • LCCs give up their potential cargo hold revenue just to guarantee a quicker turnaround.
      Putting the fuel in the fuselage allows the wing to be optimized (since it no longer has to carry fuel), and this can improve performance.
      If they’re a means to avoid emissions fines and/or higher landing fees, then airlines will just have to put up with the new designs.

    • -I suspect that’s not the way to look at it. For instance, imagine converting an A321 to hydrogen with a rear pair of tanks. It ends up with the passenger capacity of say a standard A320. However this converted A321 aircraft is much lighter than the A321 with equal range and can dispense with the heavier undercarriage, brakes, double slotted flaps etc. It also has no need for fuel in the wings and a thin composite wing can be used that pays no compromise to fuel tanks. So the aircraft is longer but not necessarily heavier.
      -An A320 class aircraft with an range of 2000nmi fuelled by cryogenic hydrogen could perhaps handle 75% of traffic originating in Europe or North America. (rough guess) so long as the airport had facilities. Even 50% would be a great achievement.

  8. Well yes, if you want to leave all your passengers at home and fly not more then 250km, yes totally feasible.

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