The race to net zero emissions is on – Airbus solidifies its hydrogen commitment by establishing ZEDC in the UK

Airbus has confirmed its plans of launching a Zero Emissions Development Centre (ZEDC), to be located in Bristol, that will support the airline’s plans to operate hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft prototypes.

The goal of the ZEDC is to achieve cost-competitive cryogenic tank manufacturing to support the successful future market launch of ZEROe and to accelerate the development of hydrogen-propulsion technologies.

The Airbus eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator on a Cessna
Citation VII business jet platform | Representative | travelnewsasia

The ZEDC, which will be installed in Filton, Bristol, will be used to design and manufacture components for zero-emission flight technologies, with a specific focus on hydrogen. Reportedly, the facility is touted to develop cost-competitive cryogenic fuel systems, required for its ZEROe passenger aircraft by 2035. Additionally, it will also serve the dual purpose of accelerating UK skills in hydrogen-propulsion technology.

The tank is a safety-critical component, for which specific systems engineering is needed.

Establishing the ZEDC in the UK expands Airbus’ in-house industrial capabilities to design, develop, test and manufacture cryogenic hydrogen storage tanks and related systems for the ZEROe project across Airbus’ four home countries. This, coupled with our partnership with ATI, will allow us to leverage our respective expertise to realise the potential of hydrogen technology to support the decarbonization of the aviation industry

Airbus’ chief technical officer Sabine Klauke said

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), back in September 2021, had identified liquid hydrogen as having ‘the highest potential’ as the future fuel in the aviation sector although it came with its own set of challenges with regards to surrounding storage and utilising cryogenic hydrogen on board. Furthermore, it also emphasized that liquid hydrogen had more potential when compared to battery and ammonia in aviation.

Representative | Composites World

LH2 can be more challenging than kerosene because it needs to be stored at -250 °C to liquefy-which is needed for increased density.

It was way back in 2020 that Airbus had first unveiled its futuristic designs for zero-emissions aircraft. The company also signed a partnership agreement earlier this year with CFM International-a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, to collaborate on a hydrogen demonstration programme that will take flight around the middle of this decade.

While both ground and flight tests will be issued for hydrogen-fueled direct combustion engines, the demonstration will use the A380 flight testbed with liquid hydrogen tanks prepared at Airbus facilities in France and Germany.

This is the most significant step undertaken at Airbus to usher in a new era of hydrogen-powered flight since the unveiling of our ZEROe concepts back in September 2020. By leveraging the expertise of American and European engine manufacturers to make progress on hydrogen combustion technology, this international partnership sends a clear message that our industry is committed to making zero-emission flight a reality

said Sabine Klauke

All three ZEROe concepts are hybrid-hydrogen aircraft.

Reportedly, Delta has become the first US-based airline to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus, as a part of the latter’s efforts to commercialise the use of hydrogen for aircraft.


COVER: Wings Magazine