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Airbus sets up UK facility to focus on hydrogen tech for aircraft


Photo taken in November 2021 of a model of Airbus’ ZEROe Concept plane. It stated that it plans to build “zero-emission commercial airplanes” by 2035.

Giuseppe Cacace | Afp | Getty Images

AirbusLaunching a U.K.-based hydrogen research facility is the latest move by the company to assist in the development of the company’s next generation aircraft.

Airbus released a statement Wednesday stating that its Zero Emission Development Centre (Filton, Bristol) has already started work on the creation of the technology.

Airbus declared that the website’s primary goal will be to develop a low-cost cryogenic fuel system for its ZEROe aircraft.

Under the ZEROe moniker, details were made public about three concept planes that are zero-emission and “hybrid hydrogen” – back in Sept. 2020.Airbus stated that it plans to create “zero emission commercial aircraft” before 2035.

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The ZEDC will be joining other comparable sites in France, Germany, Spain and Germany. The company stated that all Airbus ZEDCs will be operational by 2023 and available for ground test with the first functional cryogenic hydrogen tank. Flight testing is expected to begin in 2026.

Aviation has an enormous environmental footprint. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it is “one of most rapid-growing contributors of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global climate change.” WWF says that air travel “presently is the most carbon intensive activity one can do.”

Only this week environmental groups launched legal actionFor KLMThe Dutch aviation company was accused of misleading the public about the viability of flying.

KLM received the notice of the suit on the same day that the company’s annual general meetings. KLM spokesperson said that the company had been notified of the lawsuit and would review its contents.

Hydrogen: Hopes and fears

In an interview with CNBC earlier this yearGuillaume Faury CEO Airbus said that the aviation industry could be facing “significant obstacles” if they don’t get carbonized at the appropriate pace.

Rosanna Lockwood of CNBC interviewed Faury about the areas that his company was focused on. This included making sure planes burn less fuel and emit less carbon dioxide.

The company also certified that the planes they were delivering could hold 50% of sustainable aviation fuel.

He said, “We have to see the SAF Industry moving forwards. It must be developed and grown to support airlines. And that’s 50% of SAF.” We’ll get to 100 percent by the end the next decade.”

Faury said that the above was a very important aspect of what they’re doing. Faury explained that “the next one” will be looking into the future, both long-term, and the short-term, to get the hydrogen airplane to the market. He noted that this would require a lot more engineering, research, and capital investments.

International Energy Agency calls hydrogen a versatile energy carrier. It can be applied in wide variety of industries and has been described as having a broad range of uses.

There are many ways to make it. Electrolysis is one method. This involves the use of an electric current to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The electricity that is used to generate this hydrogen can be called green, or renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen generation is largely dependent on fossil fuels.

Airbus is not alone in exploring hydrogen-based aviation. The plans for commercial hydrogen-electric flights from London to Rotterdam were revealed last October. Project supporters hope it will be operational by 2024.

ZeroAvia, an aviation company, stated at the time that it was working on a 19-seater airplane that could “fly completely on hydrogen.” The company will launch a six-seat hydrogen fuel cell aircraft in September 2020. completed its maiden flight.

—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report