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Hydrogen in aviation to be explored through new research in Hamburg

Hydrogen in aviation to be explored through new research in Hamburg

Lufthansa Technik will work with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Center for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) and Hamburg Airport to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen in the aviation sector.

Funded by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the companies will design and test extensive maintenance and ground processers in handling hydrogen technology over the next two years.

For this, an aircraft of the Airbus A320 family will be converted into a stationary laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg.

Read more: New hydrogen station planned for Hamburg Airport

Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is being utilised by large aircraft manufacturers as a means to produce sustainable fuel for future generations of aircraft.

To investigate the effects of the use of LH2 on maintenance and ground processes at an early stage, Lufthansa Technik, DLR, ZAL and Hamburg Airport are now pooling its extensive practical and scientific expertise.

The aim is to jointly develop a pioneering demonstrator and to operate it from 2022.

Read more: Hamburg Hydrogen Network established to promote hydrogen and reduce emissions

In the first phase of the project, by the end of 2021 the project partners hope to identify the most urgent fields of development for closer scientific examination and, on this basis, to elaborate the concept for subsequent practical testing.

The practical implementation of the concept will start at the beginning of 2022 and will involve the modification of the decommissioned Airbus A320 aircraft.

In parallel to this, a virtual environment is being create at DLR that will be used to achieve digital and highly accurate mapping of the defined development fields.

The new development platform is to provide inspiration for the design process of the next generation of aircraft by means of parameterised and highly accurate virtual models.

Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport, said, “Climate-friendly flying with hydrogen technology is only possible if the infrastructure on the ground also fits perfectly.

“Close coordination is required here, and we as an airport are pleased to be able to contribute our know-how to this important project – from questions of storage and distribution to the refuelling process on the apron. At the airport, we also rely on hydrogen as the technology of the future for our ground transport.

“This project offers us the chance to identify and make the best possible use of synergy effects between gaseous hydrogen, such as that used for refuelling our baggage tractors, and liquid hydrogen for aircraft refuelling.”

Hydrogen-powered aviation: Preparing for take-off

Hydrogen as an energy source will play a key role in transforming aviation into a zero carbon/climate-neutral system over the next few decades. Novel and disruptive aircraft, aero-engine and systems innovations in combination with hydrogen technologies can help to reduce the global warming effect of flying by 50 to 90%. Moreover, these innovations can help to meet the drastic reduction targets for aviation emissions set out in the EU Green Deal.

A new independent study, commissioned by Clean Sky 2 and Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertakings on hydrogen’s potential for use in aviation, was presented at an online event yesterday, which featured Adina-Ioana Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport, and Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, as keynote speakers.

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