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Airbus Prepares Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft For 2035


It is no longer a fad. Not a dream. The fight for the environment is a reality. In the race to decarbonize the airline industry, the European manufacturer Airbus has unveiled several hydrogen-powered aircraft models that are planned to operate within 15 years. It is the first zero-emission passenger aircraft.

The project, dubbed "ZEROe", is preceded by a series of investments in alternative fuels and aerodynamic modifications to improve the efficiency of the aircraft. An idea that aims to reverse the trend that has accelerated during the pandemic where flights have generated great controversy as pollutants. The announced designs envision the use of this element by producing water vapor in its combustion system instead of carbon dioxide as it happens in reactors.

At the moment, there are three designs that have been defined for the first phase by Airbus, which has suffered the greatest financial crisis in its history. One of them is shaped like a V-shaped combined wing inspired by the famous Stealth Bomber or "stealth bomber" of the US Army. The first prototypes will be tested in 2025, although the company says it will have commercial models by 2035.

The other two feature conventional, high-capacity designs with hydrogen hybrid turboprops and turbofan. A turbofan design - characterized by having a fan at the front of the engine - will allow it to accommodate between 120 and 200 passengers with a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometers) and will be capable of completing transcontinental flights. It will be powered by a modified gas turbine engine that runs on hydrogen instead of jet fuel. Thus, the liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed through tanks located at the back.

The second model presented has a turboprop design and will carry 100 passengers. It will use a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by a hydrogen combustion system in modified gas turbine engines. It will be able to travel more than 1,000 nautical miles (1,852 kilometers), so it will be geared towards small-scale travel. The most striking in design concept will have a combined wing body and will seat up to 200 passengers. Its wings will fuse with the fuselage and will be powered by a turbofan-type engine.

With this project, the multinational based in Blagnac (France) has deviated from other approaches taken by the aviation industry that has explored the possibilities of airplanes with electric motors to achieve the goal of flights with zero emissions.

Hydrogen - he says - offers "promise as a clean aviation fuel." However, experts have shown their doubts about this electrical transition by ensuring that they are not designed for long distances. In contrast, hydrogen has raised important questions about possible safety problems due to the need to store potentially flammable liquid hydrogen.

“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation industry and we intend to play a leading role in the most significant transition this industry has ever seen. The concepts we are presenting give the world a picture of our desire to drive a future of zero-emission flights.” 

Guillaume Faury Airbus CEO , said in a statement. 

"I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen, both in synthetic fuels and as a primary energy source for commercial aircraft, has the potential to significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation."


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