American Airlines Is Betting on Innovative Hydrogen Capsules for Future Green Operations

Universal Hydrogen has developed innovative hydrogen modular capsules and a retrofit kit for aircraft 6 photos
Photo: Universal Hydrogen
Universal Hydrogen Developed Hydrogen Capsules and a Retrofit Kit for AircraftUniversal Hydrogen Developed Hydrogen Capsules and a Retrofit Kit for AircraftUniversal Hydrogen Developed Hydrogen Capsules and a Retrofit Kit for AircraftUniversal Hydrogen Developed Hydrogen Capsules and a Retrofit Kit for AircraftAmerican Airlines Also Invested in ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric solution for aviation
Green hydrogen may be the answer for commercial flights with zero emissions, but many feared the challenges of developing dedicated infrastructure logistics for it. A company claims to have found a better solution, and American Airlines is the latest major player to back it up.
Universal Hydrogen wants to simplify hydrogen-powered aviation through the use of ingenious modular capsules. These lightweight capsules would be transported from the production site straight to the airports, where they would be loaded onto the aircraft. These operations could be completed using just cargo handling equipment and the freight infrastructure that’s already in place, with no need for complicated, new logistics.

The company also makes a bold statement, affirming that there’s no need for a new, radical design when it comes to making large, single-aisle airliners greener. Future generations of models, such as the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, could run on hydrogen without sacrificing passenger capacity by just adding a bit of length. In turn, these innovative hydrogen capsules would ensure their characteristic trans-continental range capabilities.

This concept drew the attention of American Airlines, which recently announced a strategic equity investment in Universal Hydrogen. The world’s largest airline is not the only big player betting on hydrogen capsules. Toyota Ventures, GE Aviation, and Airbus Ventures have also invested in this project.

American now claims to be the only airline in the U.S. that’s made two direct investments related to hydrogen. This one focuses on logistics, while the first one has focused on propulsion, marking a collaboration with ZeroAvia, known for developing highly-advanced hydrogen-electric powertrains.

Universal Hydrogen also developed a conversion kit for regional aircraft, with a hydrogen-powered fleet (using this conversion kit and the modular capsules) set to enter service by 2025. According to its predictions, large single-aisle airliners could be using hydrogen as a primary fuel, for regular operations, by 2035.
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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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