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Airbus put hydrogen at the heart of future aircrafts

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Three zero emission concept aircrafts, known as Airbus ZEROe, all using hydrogen propulsion, have been presented by Airbus. One is a turbofan, one a turboprop with propellers and one is a new concept of blended wing body. What's at stake is huge: first, get a competitive advantage by being the first to launch a zero emission aircraft on the market before Boeing and others and second to show a new image of the aerospace industry thriving for a green transition towards zero emission.

(Credit: Airbus)

These aircraft are supposed to be put on the market by 2035. Hydrogen, that was barely considered as a serious alternative a couple years ago, seems to be Airbus' solution for zero emission aircraft. There are a few technical challenges linked to the use of hydrogen by aircrafts: hydrogen has to be kept at very low temperature, it is lighter but takes more volume than kerosene and current engines have to be modified to be able to use hydrogen. And finally an economical challenge: hydrogen has to become cheap enough to allow for reasonable price tickets. What remains to be done is to have larger capacities to produce hydrogen from renewable sources of energy and to have large volumes to be able to get to a reasonable price of energy.

Some want to ban commercial flights, at least domestic ones that could be replaced by trains. This raises lots of concerns, in terms of freedom and territorial balance. In such a vision, the large metropolitan areas and their inhabitants would feel no harm whereas smaller cities would be disadvantaged and lose their quick and direct connections to major airline hubs and therefore to the rest of the world, becoming less attractive to entrepreneurs. Is that what we want for our territories? A further concentration of economic forces in larger mega cities? The hydrogen aircraft might bring us a solution, less expensive than building or renovating new high speed train lines.

That project might be the a life or death project for the aviation industry to listen to the aspiration of the society for less pollution and to enable the mobility and tourism industry to contribute to the preservation of the planet. 15 years is a short time for such a revolution but a great and exciting challenge.

To know more about these projects, please read the full story here:

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