Schlagwort-Archive: Hydrogen

World’s First Piloted Flight of Liquid Hydrogen Powered Electric Aircraft

Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft, today announced it has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.

The day consisted of four flights powered by liquid hydrogen as part of the project’s flight test campaign, including one flight that lasted for over three hours. The flights were completed with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen that powered the aircraft.

Results of the test flights indicate that using liquid hydrogen in place of gaseous hydrogen will double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft from 750 km to 1,500 km, marking a critical step towards the delivery of emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights.

Besides project HEAVEN, the work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMVD), and The University of Ulm. Compared with pressurized gaseous hydrogen storage (GH2), the use of liquified, cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) enables significantly lower tank weights and volume, therefore leading to increased aircraft range and useful payload. Source: ‚Pipistrel-Aircraft‚.

Largest plane yet tested with a hydrogen-powered engine

A plane with an experimental hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing successfully completed a test flight this week. It is the largest such craft to be powered with the help of a hydrogen engine yet. The UK and US-based company ZeroAvia conducted a 10-minute test flight using an engine that converts hydrogen fuel into electricity to power one of the plane’s two propellers. ZeroAvia aims to enable commercial flights powered only by hydrogen fuel cells by 2025. “When people see that we can do a zero-emission flight with a clean fuel that we can create in so many places, wherever there’s electricity and water, that changes people’s minds about things,” says Jacob Leachman at Washington State University.

The demonstration at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, also marked the first flight for the 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft that had been converted into a test aircraft. It is a significantly larger aircraft than the six-seat Piper Malibu that ZeroAvia has been using for testing the hydrogen-electric engine since 2020. If all goes well with subsequent tests, ZeroAvia aims to submit the hydrogen-electric engine for regulatory certification in 2023. That could also pave the way for a larger engine suitable for 90-seat aircraft. “There have been tests of hydrogen fuel cell-based aircraft at a smaller scale, and anytime we get to demonstrate larger power levels in bigger aircraft, we learn,” says Kiruba Haran at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The aviation start-up already has investment from American Airlines along with an agreement for the possibility of ordering up to 100 hydrogen-electric engines in the future. Airbus, one of the two largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, also previously announced plans to use hydrogen fuel in developing the first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. But Airbus has acknowledged that most commercial airliners would still use gas turbine engines until at least 2050. Moving commercial aviation toward truly zero-emission flights would require much more than just exchanging traditional jet fuel for hydrogen fuel. The production of hydrogen fuel also requires electricity that may still come from a power grid running on fossil fuels – although researchers are looking into ways of producing hydrogen more cleanly in high-enough quantities for powering fleets of aircraft. “When you really look at trying to go to sustainable hydrogen-based aviation, you have to figure out how you’re going to get the hydrogen at scale,” says John Hansman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “And we’re talking a lot of hydrogen.” Source: ‚New Scientist‚.

Rolls-Royce tests its first hydrogen-powered plane engine

A modern plane engine has been powered by hydrogen fuel for the first time — putting the aviation industry a step closer to its goal of going green. The challenge: Aviation is responsible for 1.9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. When you compare that to, say, ground transportation, which is responsible for 11.9%, the industry doesn’t seem like a major part of our climate crisis. However, there is a straightforward way to decarbonize ground transportation: transition to electric vehicles, while decarbonizing the electric grid. We don’t have a comparable plan for aviation.

Aviation is responsible for 1.9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The use of sustainable aviation fuel, made from biomass, can reduce an aircraft’s emissions by as much as 80%, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Today’s batteries, meanwhile, can power small planes on short flights, but they’re too heavy for large jets or longer trips. We need to figure out some way to do better than that, though, as UN experts predict emissions from aviation could triple by 2050, due to the steady increase of passenger and freight air transport.

The idea: Hydrogen fuel is a promising alternative for the aviation industry. It provides much more power by weight than batteries, and unlike other jet fuels, it doesn’t produce any lasting greenhouse emissions when burned — the only byproduct is water. If the fuel can be made to work with existing engines, it would also avoid the need to replace aircraft or engines to mitigate emissions.

What’s new? Now, British engineering firm Rolls-Royce and the airline easyJet have demonstrated for the first time that a modern plane engine can be safely powered by hydrogen fuel. The companies’ ground test took place at the UK’s Boscombe Down military aircraft testing site, and the engine was a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A turboprop, which is used to power regional aircraft. If additional tests go well, the next step will be ground testing of hydrogen fuel in a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine, designed for business jets, before moving on to flight tests. 

The cold H2O: Hydrogen is abundant on Earth, but most of it is tied up with other elements, and the most common technique for producing pure hydrogen pulls it out of methane, releasing carbon dioxide in the process.

Alternatively, an electric current can be used to extract hydrogen from water, leaving behind only oxygen, but the process is expensive, and if the electricity is produced by fossil fuels, the climate benefits of the hydrogen fuel are minimized. Looking ahead: The electricity used to create Rolls-Royce’s hydrogen fuel came from wind and tidal power, but “green hydrogen” like that is scarce. For green hydrogen to play a significant role in aviation, we’ll need to dramatically increase the supply. Thankfully, while Rolls Royce works out the kinks of converting jet engines to run on hydrogen, others are looking for ways to scale up production, such as by using clean geothermal energy sourced from abandoned oil wells to power the process or by extracting hydrogen from saltwater at massive offshore wind farms. Source: ‚‚.

How Blue Condor will accelerate Airbus’ first hydrogen-powered test flights

Blue Condor, launched by Airbus UpNext, is taking a modified glider up to 33,000 feet – an extreme altitude for an aircraft that normally cruises below 10’000 feet – to analyse hydrogen combustion’s impact on contrail properties. The result of this analysis will provide critical information on aviation’s non-CO2 emissions, including contrails and NOx, in advance of the ZEROe demonstrator flight testing.

The Arcus-J glider is somewhat of an outlier in the world of aviation. It is configured like any sailplane capable of free flight thanks to its 20-metre wingspan, but with the added advantage of a retractable PBS TJ-100 jet engine to optimise the glider’s self-launching and long cross-country capabilities. It all started in 2016. Bob Carlton of US company Desert Aerospace converted the Arcus-M, a motorised sailplane, into what is now known as an “Arcus-J jet sailplane.” After retrofitting the glider, Bob and the Arcus-J’s owner Dennis Tito powered up and embarked on the world’s first significant long-soaring flight in a jet-powered sailplane. Today, there are only a few Arcus-J gliders in the world. Now, two of these gliders have been called upon to undertake the Blue Condor mission – an Airbus UpNext project that focuses on analysing contrails and other emissions from a hydrogen combustion engine by comparing them to those produced by a conventional kerosene engine in the same power class. The Perlan Project, alongside Airbus and its technical partners, will modify one glider and, thanks to Perlan’s world-renowned, high-altitude piloting expertise, will operate the gliders at their limit during each phase of the mission.

A flight test campaign in three phases
The first phase of the Blue Condor project involves modifying one Arcus-J glider. Airbus engineers are replacing the rear pilot seating with a hydrogen-propulsion system. Two 700-bar gaseous hydrogen tanks will provide fuel to the turbojet hydrogen combustion engine. The second Arcus-J glider will remain unmodified, operating on its existing turbojet engine. Once fully modified, the glider is expected to take its first flight in July 2022. The aim of this first flight test campaign is to validate the overall platform configuration, as well as flight handling in real conditions. A second flight test campaign is planned for November 2022 during which the modified glider will operate exclusively on hydrogen.

The third flight test campaign, scheduled for early 2023, will see a Grob Egrett – another aircraft reputed for its long-endurance and high-altitude test capabilities – steer the two gliders to the test altitude, release them, and then mirror their every movement at speeds of 80-85kts during back-to-back tests. In doing so, the Grob Egrett will act as a “chase” aircraft, capturing critical data thanks to the emissions sensors and associated instrumentation provided by key partner DLR – the German aerospace centre. “The Blue Condor project is a major milestone on our ZEROe journey as it will launch the first series of in-flight tests using a hydrogen combustion engine at Airbus,” explains Mathias Andriamisaina, Airbus Head of Zero-Emission Demonstrators. “These flight test campaigns will provide an excellent knowledge base on hydrogen’s impact on engine behaviour, contrails and other non-CO2 emissions. This will undoubtedly inform the direction of future flight testing using the upcoming ZEROe A380 test platform.”

An in-depth look at contrails from hydrogen combustion
Analysing contrail properties at near and far fields is a core objective of the Blue Condor project. Indeed, very little research currently exists on contrails produced by hydrogen combustion. Contrails, or „condensation trails,“ are clouds of ice crystals that can form behind an aircraft at high altitude. Although hydrogen combustion can produce contrails depending on the ambient atmospheric conditions, they differ significantly to those produced by conventional combustion engines. And because hydrogen combustion emits about 2.6 times more water compared to standard JetA/A1, in-depth analysis is required to understand its full impact on contrails. Contrail formation and measurement are highly complex. High altitudes and cold environments offer ideal meteorological conditions for contrails to form naturally due to the static temperatures and relative humidity at altitude. A variety of elements is of interest when analysing contrail properties, including the following:

  • Ice crystal size, distribution, density and number
  • Water vapour in the atmosphere

Blue Condor’s first two flight test campaigns will be carried out in Nevada, USA. The third will be conducted in North Dakota, USA, in partnership with the University of North Dakota, to take advantage of the ideal meteorological conditions.

Contrail characterisation: a key Airbus research area
Contrail characterisation is of significant interest to any future hydrogen combustion aircraft programme. The Blue Condor project is thus a cornerstone of the ZEROe initiative, shedding light on one key aspect of hydrogen-powered flight. In fact, the results of Blue Condor’s three flight test campaigns will play an essential role in preparing the groundwork for the flight-testing phases of the ZEROe demonstrator using the A380 platform.

In addition, the objectives of the Blue Condor project perfectly complement Airbus’ overall climate strategy, which aims to better understand contrails produced by alternative fuel sources. Several Airbus initiatives are currently underway in this respect, including the ECLIF3 and VOLAN flight demonstration projects involving the A350 and A319neo respectively. Both initiatives focus on emissions characterisation, including contrails, related to the use of 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

“In partnership with the Perlan Project and the DLR, we’re really taking a scholarly and science-based approach to contrail characterisation,” Mathias says. “The use of innovative methods – like a modified glider to reach higher altitudes and a chaser aircraft to capture emissions – also proves that we’re willing to try new things to obtain the data needed to give us a complete picture of aviation’s climate impact.” Source: ‚Airbus‚.

Airbus and Kansai Airports partner to study the use of hydrogen

Airbus and Kansai Airports have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the use of hydrogen at three of the Group’s airports in Japan (Kansai International Airport, Osaka International Airport, and Kobe Airport).

Through this partnership, Airbus and Kansai Airports will jointly prepare a roadmap to address challenges and define an advocacy plan for hydrogen needs. Both parties would lead the study into the development of infrastructure for the use of hydrogen in the aviation sector.

Each partner will leverage their complementary expertise to help define the potential opportunities that hydrogen can offer in support of the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. Airbus will provide aircraft characteristics, fleet energy usage, and insight on hydrogen-powered aircraft for ground operations. Kansai Airports will study the infrastructure required at the airports for the introduction of hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.

“We are very pleased to have Kansai Airports, one of Japan’s major airport groups, on board,” said Stéphane Ginoux, Head of the North Asia region for Airbus and President of Airbus Japan. “Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission technologies as it can be created from renewable energy and does not produce emissions. Renewable hydrogen will help decarbonise not only aircraft but also all airport-associated ground transport.”

“We have set a target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for the three airports we operate, and this partnership with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus will help us reach this goal,” said Yoshiyuki Yamaya, Representative Director and CEO of Kansai Airports. Benoit Rulleau, Representative Director and Co-CEO, added, “We are glad to extend here in Japan the joint efforts between Airbus and our shareholder VINCI Airports, leading the introduction of hydrogen in airports, to decarbonize air transport. Japan boasts a very active environment in the field of hydrogen development.”

Airbus is already working in partnership with airports around the world including the MoU with VINCI Airports, to lead the scale-up of hydrogen use in the aviation industry. This MoU with Kansai Airports is the first one Airbus has signed with an airport operator in Japan and follows the one signed with Kawasaki Heavy Industries last month to work together towards the realisation of a hydrogen society in Japan. Source: ‚Airbus‚.