© Aviation H2
© Aviation H2

Aviation H2 draws closer to ammonia jet turbine conversion

Australian-based Aviation H2 has ordered the final parts to modify a jet turbine to run on liquid ammonia.

Hoped to be one of the first liquid ammonia jet engines, the Swiwin SW170b-2448 turbine will serve as a proof of concept for the conversion model the company developed in previous feasibility studies to allow the hydrogen carrier to power flights.

In addition to the part orders, Aviation H2 is working with machinists to build specific components to carry out the modification.

Once the engine modification is complete, Aviation H2 will carry out testing to optimise its performance. Subsequently, it then plans to purchase an aircraft which will be convert to a liquid ammonia turbine for the test flight.

Coming as a “major milestone” for the company, Helmut Mayer, Director & Chief Engineer at Aviation H2, said the concept would provide the industry with a “strong proof of concept” for decarbonisation.

By using ammonia, Aviation H2 hopes to overcome the challenges associated with hydrogen storage and transportation. With a higher volumetric hydrogen content and easier handling properties compared to liquid of gaseous hydrogen, the company believes he choice puts it at “the forefront of innovation.”

The company said the conversion model will play a key role in cleaning up aviation by providing a cost-effective, “right now” solution for operators looking to decarbonise their aircraft fleets without significant financial burden.

“As carbon regulations become more stringent, some businesses will struggle to keep up with the capital requirements of replacing their whole fleet,” Mayer added.

In November 2022, Aviation H2 kicked off testing of the engine using jet a-fuel to offer baseline data required to compare the engine’s performance once it is converted to ammonia.

Net Zero Airports: Ready for take-off?

With hydrogen-powered aircraft having taken to the skies, attention is turning to establishing airport infrastructure and technologies.

Although technologies destined to provide aircraft with the means to fly on clean energy are edging towards commercial viability, with test flights from both ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen having taken place in the early part of 2023, as with many sectors and end-uses of hydrogen, the aviation industry is calling for further onus on developing infrastructure to facilitate flight.

The sheer hub and spoke-based nature of airports forces the question of whether these locations could play an even more significant role in the development of the hydrogen industry.

According to a report by gasworld, in a high-use US scenario, total hydrogen demand in aviation could reach 90,000 tonnes per day or more by 2040, with the medium- and low-use scenarios predicting 50,000-53,000 and 30,000 to 32,000 tonnes per day, respectively1. In order to achieve the infrastructure capable of delivering the high volumes of hydrogen required, a steady build-out of transportation and refuelling systems will be needed.

However, while hydrogen-powered flight remains in its infancy, the potential for existing airport operations to be run on hydrogen, utilising infrastructure that will be required for future aircraft, becomes a strong possibility…

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