Airbus plans to test hydrogen-burning aircraft engine

Airbus plans to test a hydrogen combustion engine by the middle of this decade.

The test will be conducted in partnership with turbofan manufacturer CFM International, which is a joint venture between General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines.

The test program is a step towards Airbus’ goal of bringing a zero-emission hydrogen aircraft into service by 2035.

Airbus and CFM will perform the test using an Airbus A380 aircraft and a GE Passport turbojet engine modified to run on hydrogen. The engine will be mounted in the rear of the A380 fuselage to allow engine emissions, including contrails, to be monitored separately from those of the engines powering the aircraft. CFM will run an extensive ground test program ahead of the A380 flight tests, the companies said.

Sabine Klauke, Airbus’ chief technology officer, called the test program the most significant step the company has taken in its hydrogen-powered aircraft development program since unveiling a trio of concepts. zero-emission hydrogen aircraft in 2020.

“By leveraging the expertise of American and European engine manufacturers to advance hydrogen combustion technology, this international partnership sends a clear message that our industry is committed to making zero-emissions flight a reality,” said said Klauke.

Aviation accounts for around 3.5% of global climate change, according to a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Environment. However, airlines and manufacturers have pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The development of hydrogen propulsion is a strategy that has been presented to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

According to a scenario presented by IATA in October, 65% of aviation’s carbon footprint would be improved by increased production and use of sustainable aviation fuel, while new propulsion technologies, including hydrogen, would reduce another 13%. Efficiency improvements would eliminate 3%. And the remaining 19% would be addressed through carbon capture and storage and carbon offsets.

Airbus began turning to hydrogen in 2020 after receiving a $1.7 billion commitment from the French government to develop a hydrogen-powered aircraft.

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