Green hydrogen is a critical part of Airbus’ strategy to lead the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. This means architecting the future green hydrogen ecosystem for aviation will need to start now in preparation of an entry-into-service of hydrogen aircraft by 2035 with the following steps:-
Power generation. Renewable energy via hydropower, geothermal power, solar panels or wind turbines is generated at the source. This energy is then transformed into renewable electricity to power electrolysers, the key extraction technology for green hydrogen.
Production. Electrolysers are used to separate hydrogen atoms from oxygen atoms in water by electrolysis which then generates hydrogen. Power-to-Liquid (PtL) synthetic e-fuel which combines hydrogen with carbon obtained through Direct Air Carbon Capture is then produced at dedicated facilities. With the growth of demand, airports are expected to develop on-site facilities to produce hydrogen within close proximity to operations. Off-site production is handled separately.
Storage, liquefaction & transport. Hydrogen produced at airports is liquefied and stored on site. Hydrogen produced off site is transported to liquefaction sites via repurposed natural gas pipelines. Upon liquefaction, it is stored and then transported directly to airports by truck. Optionally, cargo ships can transport larger quantities of hydrogen from overseas locations. PtL uses jet fuel’s existing supply infrastructure to reach airports.
Distribution. It is distributed directly to aircraft via refuelling at gates. This is similar to today’s refuelling methods for jet fuel.
End use. Hydrogen is used to fuel short-haul aircraft (via combustion or fuel cells), while PtL – blended with jet fuel – remains an option to fuel longer-haul aircraft.