Airbus reveals zero-emission concepts

IOM3 Content Cafe
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21 Sep 2020
ZEROe concept aircraft, shown in the turbofan configuration. Credit Airbus

International company Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which it says could enter service by 2035. These concepts each represent a different approach to achieving zero-emission flight, exploring various technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations.

All three concepts - all codenamed “ZEROe” - for a first climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft rely on hydrogen as a primary power source. The options are -

A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.

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.

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. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout.

For any of the concepts to reach market, airports will require significant hydrogen transport and refuelling infrastructure.