Guillaume Faury, Executive Chairman of Airbus, unveiled three hydrogen-powered aircraft concepts on September 21st and aims to bring a zero-emission commercial aircraft into service in 2035.
Airbus is working on three aircraft concepts, all propelled by hydrogen and designated under the code name "ZEROe" for "zero emissions". The hydrogen engine does not emit any pollution since it produces only water vapor.
However, this presupposes that the hydrogen itself is "clean", i.e. produced by electrolysis of water (electricity is passed through water, a process that separates the oxygen and hydrogen that make up water) using electricity from renewable sources (hydroelectric dams, geothermal, wind, etc.) or at least low carbon sources.
The first concept is based on the current design of airliners. From 120 to 200 passengers, the equivalent of an A220 or an A320 with a range of more than 3,500 kilometers, it would be powered by a hydrogen-powered gas turbine, stored in tanks located in the rear part of the fuselage.
The second concept is a propeller model that can carry up to 100 passengers over 1,800 kilometers.
The third concept is a flying wing with a capacity and autonomy similar to the turbojet concept with the capacity to embark up to 200 passengers thanks to a modular internal space made possible by the fusion of the wing and the fuselage.
These three ZEROe aircraft will therefore not emit any polluting gas emissions, but their realization will also depend heavily on the capacity of the airports to set up an infrastructure allowing the transport and storage of large quantities of hydrogen.