Airbus Starts Making Cryogenic Tanks, Aims to Use Only Green Hydrogen for Jets

Determined to deliver the first zero-emission commercial aircraft on the market by 2035, Airbus continues to take important steps that help develop hydrogen-propulsion technologies. Next on the company’s list are Zero-Emission Development Centers for hydrogen tank manufacturing, and investing in green hydrogen.
The Airbus Zero-Emission Development Centers will manufacture cryogenic tanks for hydrogen 6 photos
Photo: Airbus
Airbus ZEROe zero-emission aircraftAirbus ZEROe zero-emission aircraftAirbus ZEROe zero-emission aircraftAirbus is manufacturing hydrogen tanksAirbus ZEROe zero-emission aircraft
Could hydrogen be the future of zero-emission aviation? Airbus believes so, but there are several challenges on the way to launching the ZEROe aircraft. One of them is the fact that the final liquid hydrogen (LH2) needs to be stored at -418 °F (-250 °C), which is why the tank becomes a critical component.

This will be the role of the future Airbus Zero-Emission Development Centers (ZEDC) - manufacturing cryogenic tanks, for a cost-effective hydrogen production cycle. One will be set-up at the Airbus facility in Bremen (Germany), and the other one at the Nantes facility, in France, and both are planned to become operational by 2023.

Another important challenge is the fact that green hydrogen is still too expensive to make. According to the Airbus, less than 1% of the total hydrogen that’s currently being produced is green. But the good news is that things are changing fast and new technologies are making this green alternative more accessible.

If investments in electrolyzers (the green technology that can separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water) continue at the same rate, green hydrogen production rate could become 50 times higher than it is now, in just 6 years.

By the time the ZEROe plane should hit the market, the aerospace company expects to be using only green hydrogen, produced at airports, to power it. First, renewable energy will be transformed into electricity that will power the electrolyzers. Then, they will be used to obtain hydrogen, that will be liquefied and stored on site, or sent to liquefaction sites and then transported to airports, where it will be ready to use.

This would be the ideal scenario for hydrogen production and use in aviation. Ten years is not a long time and, by then, Airbus expects green hydrogen to be more widely-available and affordable.
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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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