ZEROe Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft: Airbus and CFM Join Hands
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50/50 joint venture to create aircraft fully powered by hydrogen; currently planned to be commercialized by 2035

Here’s the article posted in Future Flight.

According to the article,

  • The aviation industry is exploring an energy mix of hydrogen, electric, and sustainable aviation fuels to achieve zero CO2 and non-CO2 emissions
  • Airbus and CFM International are partnering on a hydrogen-fueled demonstration project called “ZEROe” that aims to put zero-emission commercial aircraft into service by 2035
  • Meanwhile, France’s BeautHyFuel Green Aviation Project is pursuing cryogenic hydrogen propulsion goals, but fuel distribution and storage remain major challenges

The major characteristics of the ZEROe project make it an interesting and unique development in the aviation industry

  • Hydrogen Propulsion: The initiative aims to develop hydrogen-powered aircraft through two primary methods:
    • Hydrogen Combustion: Utilizing modified gas turbines with hydrogen fuel injectors and fuel systems, akin to current aircraft engines.
    • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Generating electrical energy via fuel cells to power electric motors that drive propellers or fans, resulting in a fully electric propulsion system.
  • Four Concept Aircraft Designs:
    • Turbofan: Equipped with two hybrid-hydrogen turbofan engines, liquid hydrogen storage behind the rear pressure bulkhead, offering a range of over 2,000 nautical miles and seating fewer than 200 passengers.
    • Turboprop: Featuring two hybrid-hydrogen turboprop engines with eight-bladed propellers, liquid hydrogen storage behind the rear pressure bulkhead, capable of over 1,000 nautical miles and accommodating fewer than 100 passengers.
    • Blended-Wing Body (BWB): Incorporating two hybrid-hydrogen turbofan engines with liquid hydrogen storage tanks beneath the wings, providing a range of over 2,000 nautical miles and fewer than 200 passengers.
    • Fully Electrical Concept: Utilizing a fully electric propulsion system powered by fuel cells, designed for a range of 1,000 nautical miles and fewer than 100 passengers.
  • Testing and Development:
    • Technology and Testing Milestones: Airbus is establishing propulsion methods including hybrid hydrogen-electric fuel cells and direct hydrogen combustion.
    • Dedicated Development Centres: Facilities in France, the UK, Germany, and Spain are focused on developing tanks and cryogenic fuel systems.
    • A380 Testbed: The Airbus A380 MSN1 test aircraft is being utilized to test these technologies.
  • Ecosystem Development:
    • Hydrogen Infrastructure: Partnerships with hydrogen producers, distributors, airports, and airlines to create the necessary ecosystem for the widespread adoption of hydrogen aircraft.
    • Airport Decarbonization: Collaborations with airports to develop a phased approach for decarbonizing airport facilities, ground operations, and transport through the use of hydrogen.

Key Achievements: So far, the project has achieved the following:

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  • Fuel Cell Testing: Successful testing of a hydrogen fuel cell at 1.2MW; sufficient power for a fuel cell-based commercial passenger aircraft.
  • Flight Profiles and Power Levels: Analysis of power levels during various flight profiles using the fuel cell rig, including full flight simulations.

These characteristics underscore Airbus and CFM’s comprehensive strategy for developing and integrating hydrogen-powered aircraft into the aviation industry.

Interestingly, we have some other posts related to this content:

First Continental Hydrogen Aircraft: HRS and Beyond Aero’s Plans – HRS and Beyond Aero signed an agreement to develop the first hydrogen aircraft for continental flights, featuring a hydrogen fuel cell and several hydrogen storage tanks. First Flight Of Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Achieved by Destinus – Destinus, a European startup, achieved the first successful flight of its hydrogen-powered aircraft, utilizing new hydrogen afterburners developed in-house and integrated with an existing jet turbine engine​​. Green Hydrogen in Aviation: Possibilities and Plans – Experts predict that by 2050, around a third of aviation could be powered by hydrogen, with Airbus planning to launch the world’s first commercial hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035​​. Hydrogen Regional Airliner: The Future of Clean Aviation Projects – The Clean Aviation European initiative is working on projects to develop greener aircraft technologies, including electric propulsion systems, hydrogen and hybrid gas turbine designs, and the next generation of high-power fuel cells​​. New Concept For Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft by Airbus – Airbus introduces a revolutionary concept for a hydrogen-powered aircraft, aiming for zero emissions during operation and focusing on developing cutting-edge sustainable aviation technology​​.

About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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