On the 24th of September 2020, a modified Piper M aircraft became the first of its kind as it took off from Bedfordshire, fuelled not by kerosene but by hydrogen. Company ZeroAvia have said now they believe the science is there for long zero emission flights by the end of the decade.
For anyone unaware of the science behind it, current conventional aircraft are believed to contribute towards about 3.5% of all global climate change, a figure made from both CO² and non CO² induced effects.
The combustion of hydrogen however produces only water vapour, a completely harmless emission by comparison.
This isn’t the first time we have seen a vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, in fact the technology has been around for several years, however this is the first time the technology has been commercially available in an aircraft. However at the current point in time, the ground infrastructure doesn’t exist to support these types of aircraft. Hydrogen has always been incredibly tricky to store and transport with its low volumetric electric density. Hydrogen is also highly flammable, especially when exposed to extreme heat (Hindenburg anyone?) but the overall efficiency and environmental benefits make the challenge one that is worth proceeding with.
As it stands, the aircraft completed a 20 minute flight, but the company has the backing of the UK Government as part of JetZero Council initiative and has the backing of various ministers. ZeroAvia hopes to complete a 250 mile test flight in the near future to further prove the technology to be possible.
Airbus also recently revealed their hydrogen based aircraft, but it’ll be a few years before they take off
What do you think about the technology? Will you fly on a hydrogen aircraft in 10 years given the option? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Edit: will update further if I find any more information.
Honestly, such a project wouldn’t go ahead without backing from the regualtors. Hopefully with all the regualtions around, there are ways of ensuring that hydrogen powered aircraft are safe and an incident like the Hindenburg doesn’t happen again.
Welp, I’m not exited to say the least. I would never fly on one of these. Sure, there’s less emissions, but who would fly on something that can explode at any moment? Jets were different, they had already been proven in the military before being widely used in the commercial market, but these hydrogen engines are unproven, and I have zero trust in them. Wether it’s a GA plane, or an airliner doing commercial service, I’m still not flying on it. The technology is still cannot be trusted, and from looking at previous aircraft and airships using hydrogen, it’s too dangerous. And if you want to make money as an airline, you can’t have a large portion of the space in your aircraft filled with gas, instead of paying passengers.
I’m sorry, but there are more risks and negatives than rewards with hydrogen-powered aircraft.
I’m 100% on board with what @Butter_Boi said. I am not comfortable AT ALL with a giant hydrogen tank sitting directly behind the passenger cabin. I don’t want to be blown up by a giant hydrogen bomb while trying to travel.
I think we should be focusing on making better engines that are more efficient with current fuels. It seems that the engineers are just trying to find a way to work around deigning something new, such as an engine.
Why aren’t we focusing on making hydrogen cars then? Aviation makes up such a minuscule part of the Earth’s carbon emissions. Btw i wont be driving a hydrogen car either
Feel free to go sit behind an H-Bomb next time you fly but I’ll be on the A320neo or 737MAX.
Think about it, this is a new start. After the Hindenburg, the regulators have obviously added more stringent safety measures to prevent a repeat. Regarding the storage, aircraft manufacturers would be innovative and hopefully come up with a good solution on where to keep the Hydrogen, possibly adding room for airlines to carry more revenue payload. The most appropriate thing is to develop the use of biofuels if we’re talking about conserving the environment instead of rushing into hydrogen as an energy source. However, I won’t rule hydrogen-powered flight out yet. Let’s see how it goes from here.
Electricity has always been explored as an option for an energy source in aviation, but the amount of batteries needed makes it cumbersome, unless there’s a groundbreaking innovation that would make electricity efficient to use on airliners.