22 September 2020.
Aviation giant Airbus is set to launch world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter into service by 2035. This will be powered by hydrogen – an option that is believed to hold promise as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace and many other industries to meet their climate-neutral targets.
- There will be three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft.
- The three concepts – will be codenamed “ZEROe” and they include :
- A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles which can accommodate 120- 200 passengers.
- A”blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept.
- A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.
- However,in order to tackle these challenges, airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations.
Need for the shift:
The aviation emissions contribute 5 percentage of anthropogenic climate change. Therefore, it is essential to shift towards clean aircraft fuels such as hydrogen.
Pioneering in hydrogen aircraft:
The hydrogen aircraft designed and created by airbus is the first commercial hydrogen powered aircraft. Prior to this the Russian manufacturer Tupolev had built a prototype called Tu-154. This was the first experimental aircraft that operated on liquid nitrogen.
Hydrogen as a fuel:
Though hydrogen is a clean fuel, it is more expensive than that of the fossil fuels. This is mainly because there are several obstacles in using hydrogen as fuel. Hydrogen is the lightest element and hence escape towards upper atmosphere very easily. And so, it is rarely found in its pure form.
Hydrogen is generally produced from methane or by electrolysis of water. In 2020, hydrogen is predominantly produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming, coal gasification or by partial oxidation of Methane. Out of these three, steam Methane reforming is the current leading technology in 2020. However, it releases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
World largest hydrogen production centre
The world’s largest hydrogen production Centre is the Fukushima hydrogen energy research field that is located in Japan.