Airbus Shares More Details About Its Path Towards the Hydrogen-Powered ZEROe

Airbus is working on cryogenic hydrogen tanks for its future ZEROe aircraft 7 photos
Photo: Airbus
Hyrogen TankZEROe ConceptZEROe ConceptZEROe ConceptZEROe ConceptHydrogen Tank Development
A couple of years ago, Airbus unveiled three aircraft concepts meant for zero-emissions flights. What they had in common was the use of liquid hydrogen for fuel, but they varied in terms of propulsion (two boasted turbofan engines, while the smaller model was a turboprop). As the journey to bring these concepts to life continues, Airbus is sharing more about each step of this complex project.
One of the essential components of the ZEROe project is the development of storage tanks that can keep hydrogen at an extremely cold temperature (-418 °F/-250 °C). Last year, the first major step was to start establishing Airbus Zero-Emission Development Centers (ZEDC) in various locations, with the purpose of designing and manufacturing cryogenic tanks. Once set up in Nantes, France, and Bremen, Germany, the ZEDCs became development hubs where teams of experts joined forces to roll out the future tanks as soon as possible.

According to Airbus, Nantes has an extensive background in metallic structures, while Bremen (close to the Ariane Group) is more focused on hydrogen. As a result, the ZEROe tank will be manufactured in Nantes, while Bremen will handle the coldbox (which turns the liquid hydrogen into gas).

The process goes something like this: engineers in Toulouse develop the design, which is then sent to the teams in Nantes and Bremen, who make the final modifications. Then, a tank prototype is manufactured and tested with nitrogen instead of hydrogen.

The cryogenic hydrogen tank prototype, which was the first of its kind ever produced by Airbus, was made in less than a year.

It’s a real testament to the teamwork across our sites to see this first tank being manufactured so quickly. The agile methodology has delivered a great prototype and will help drive improvements in future iterations,” said Chris Redfern, Head of Manufacturing, ZEROe Aircraft and Head of Propulsion Industrial Architect.

The feedback from this first tank will be used to develop an improved second version over the course of next year.

The goal is to have a fully-functional cryogenic tank ready to be installed in an A380 demonstrator within the next four to six years.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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