Wednesday, 23 February 2022 15:12

Airbus says it will demonstrate hydrogen power by mid-decade

PARIS, France: Airbus said it would build a demonstrator to test propulsion technology for future hydrogen powered airplanes, in co-operation with CFM International.

CFM, jointly owned by General Electric and Safran, is the world’s largest jet engine manufacturer, in terms of number of units sold.

The new hydrogen technology partnership was reported by Reuters this week, but the companies declined to disclose the cost of the research project.

Airbus plans to fit a specially adapted version of a current-generation engine on an A380 superjumbo test plane, adding that it will produce a small "ZEROe" passenger aircraft powered by hydrogen by 2035.

According to a briefing made public last June, in 2021 the company also informed the European Union that most airliners will rely on traditional jet engines until at least 2050.

However, Airbus officials said its research into disruptive technology will play a key role in the next generation of larger airplanes, though rival Boeing placed greater emphasis on sustainable aviation fuels, rather than hydrogen power.

Lat year, CFM said a separate next-generation jet engine, called RISE, which it hopes to offer for larger jets beginning in 2035, can run on alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

The new engine demonstrator will burn hydrogen fuel in the combustion chamber in place of jet fuel, while an alternative considered by some companies, such as Universal Hydrogen, uses hydrogen to power fuel cells, which will then drive electric engines propelling the plane.

Chief Technical Officer Sabine Klauke said Airbus was looking at both fuel-cell and hydrogen combustion technology.

They will choose the final type of product for the "ZEROe" decarbonised plane project in 2025, Airbus said.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Guillaume Faury was quoted by Welt am Sonntag stating that Airbus could go it alone and make engines for its future hydrogen-fuelled planes.