Hydrogen is a flammable, gaseous substance that emits no CO2 if generated from renewable energy through electrolysis. In this case, water and heat are the only by-products, a process through which no emissions other than water vapour are produced.
Hydrogen is also an energy carrier that can stabilise electricity networks provisioned by renewable or carbon-free sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels. Because renewable hydrogen draws on renewable energy sources, it is considered as “cleaner” and more sustainable than comparable energy-storage systems.
It is for this key reason that aeronautics engineers—including those at Airbus—are taking a closer look at hydrogen as a potential technology pathway for zero-emission aircraft. In the years to come, research into hydrogen is expected to ramp up exponentially as the aviation industry ecosystem assesses hydrogen’s technical and economic viability.
“Hydrogen is one of the most promising zero-emission technologies currently under consideration,” Glenn Llewellyn, Airbus VP, Zero-Emission Aircraft, explains. “We’re exploring all hydrogen options to determine which hydrogen pathway could play a key role in scaling up zero-emission technology to larger aircraft.”