European plane-maker Airbus has released designs for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft. The aircraft could potentially reduce aircraft emissions by up to 50%.
Airbus unveiled three different designs, which they will test over the next five years. The company hopes to put one in the sky by 2035.
The Turbofan’s narrow-bodied design mimics that of Airbus’s existing A321neo aircraft, but runs on hydrogen and with a gas-turbine engine. The aircraft could seat up to 200 passengers and fly more than 2,000 nautical miles.
Liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed through tanks behind the rear pressure bulkhead. The hydrogen fuel cells will create electricity to complement the gas turbine.
A smaller propeller plane, the Turboprop could seat 100 passengers and travel shorter distances. Just like the Turbofan, this design’s liquid hydrogen and distribution center would also be in the rear pressure bulkhead. But, the two-hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines driving the eight-bladed propellers would provide thrust.
The third design is called a “Blended-Wing Body” (BWB). Shaped like a V, and seating 200 passengers, the BWB has a huge interior.
Airbus faces pressure from French and German government to develop a cleaner craft relatively quickly after their help during the corona crisis. Bloomberg Green reports the shareholders have committed around €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion) toward cleaner propulsion.
Hydrogen has become an increasing area of focus for Airbus, but developing a hydrogen aircraft on this timeline will be very challenging because of the infrastructure and government investment it requires.
“We’re excited by the incredible potential hydrogen offers aviation in terms of disruptive emissions reduction,” Glenn Llewellyn, vice president of zero-emissions technology at Airbus, said in a statement.
Airbus hopes for its first zero-emission passenger jet to be in service by the mid-2030s. The company estimates the hydrogen planes could reduce aviation’s carbon emissions by up to 50%.