EU funded project confirms viability of liquid hydrogen fuelled aircraft

May 31, 2002

Brussels, 30 May 2002

The results of an EU funded project, Cryoplane, which confirmed the feasibility of liquid hydrogen fuelled aircraft as an alternative to fossil fuelled planes, were presented in Ispra, Italy on and 28 May.

The project was funded under the Fifth Framework programme's Growth programme, lasted 26 months and involved 35 partners from industry, research centres and academic institutions in 11 EU countries, including the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). The Commission believes the Cryoplane project to be representative of approach to research foreseen for the forthcoming Sixth Framework programme (FP6).

'The Cryoplane project is not only a good illustration of how research is a vital component in fostering industrial competitiveness and sustainable development, it also shows how pooling of otherwise scattered resources gives European research and development a competitive advantage,' said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'This is the spirit of FP6. We are heading in the right direction,' he said.

Cryoplane set out to evaluate the requirements for liquid hydrogen fuelled aircraft. Some of the issues addressed in the project were aircraft configuration and performance, systems and components, unconventional propulsion systems, safety, environmental compatibility, fuel production, airport operation and scenarios for the transition from kerosene to hydrogen.

The project succeeded in confirming that hydrogen engines can be as efficient as kerosene ones in terms of energy consumed, with benefits including substantial reduction in emissions. Computer simulations have also shown that condensation trails produced by hydrogen fuelled aircraft will contribute much less to greenhouse gases than kerosene powered planes.

Cryoplane has also shown that hydrogen fuelled aircraft will have no difficulty in fulfilling international airworthiness requirements. Assessment of the technical feasibility and availability of components for fuel system architectures has also shown that they are adaptable to alternative tank arrangements.

While fossil fuel resources will be able to cover the needs of aviation for the next 50 years, a changeover to sustainable technologies is desired and may begin as early as 2015. Despite a decline in air travel following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, growth is expected to resume at an annual rate of four to five per cent over the next decade. Air traffic contributes to around three per cent of artificial greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide.

Liquid hydrogen is the only known sustainable alternative fuel for this application. It can be produced by water electrolysis using power from renewable sources. Its primary combustion product is water, so it gives off extremely low emissions and would eliminate dependency on fossil fuels.

For further information, please consult the following web address: xml/en/businet/airbus/cryoplane/cryopla ne.htm&airbus

For information on further activities funded under the Growth programme, please consult the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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