Lack of Green Hydrogen Could Stymie Aviation Fuel Cell Deployment -- OPIS
Insufficient scaled-up production of low-carbon hydrogen could
hamper efforts to develop fuel-cell aircraft engines as French
aviation giant Airbus SE aims to achieve zero emissions in a sector
that is typically hard to decarbonize, according to hydrogen
industry consultant Alex Barnes.
"Aviation is a hard to decarbonize sector as it cannot easily
electrify," Barnes told OPIS on Monday. "The challenge is that
replacing fossil fuels is difficult as they are very energy dense
and so are ideal for aviation where power to weight ratios are key
... There is very little production of green hydrogen globally so
scaling up production will be [vital]."
Airbus is proposing a design in which fuel cells convert green
hydrogen into electricity, which then powers a propeller, according
to Airbus in a Nov. 30 news release.
At scale, and if technology targets are achieved, fuel cell
engines may be able to power a 100-passenger aircraft with a range
of approximately 1,000 nautical miles, according to Airbus.
However, the infrastructure required to produce and distribute
low-carbon emission hydrogen at scale has yet to be developed,
according to Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.
"This is a big concern and might derail our plans to introduce a
hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035," said Faury.
The company hopes to use the hydrogen-powered fuel-cell engines
in its zero-emission (ZEROe) aircraft series that it expects to be
operational by 2035, with test flights scheduled from 2026
The concept will be tested on an Airbus A380 superjumbo, which
will be adapted to carry the fuel-cell engine pod that is attached
to the external parts of the rear fuselage where the horizontal and
vertical tailplanes are joined. A cryogenic tank containing
liquefied hydrogen will be installed inside the aircraft's rear
fuselage, said Airbus.
"There are two alternatives where green hydrogen can play a role
- synthetic aviation fuels which can directly replace fossil fuels,
or hydrogen fuel cells. However, the former need to be based on
sustainable carbon sources so that net emissions are zero, whilst
the latter require different aircraft design," Barnes said.
Airbus has been exploring the possibilities of fuel cell
propulsion systems for aviation since October 2020, when it signed
a joint venture with international automotive supplier and fuel
cell systems specialist ElringKlinger. A few months later, in
December 2020, Airbus presented its first pod-concept with six
removable fuel cell propeller propulsion systems.
The development of renewable and low-carbon emission hydrogen in
northwest Europe is expected to gradually scale up in the short- to
medium-term to reach a production capacity target of over 30
GigaWatts by 2030, according to the International Energy
Most of the low-emission hydrogen projects are currently in the
early stages of development, the IEA said.
--Reporting by Benita Dreesen, firstname.lastname@example.org; Editing by
Rob Sheridan, email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 05, 2022 14:01 ET (19:01 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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