Airbus, taking as an example the Soviet Tu-155 project, begins the development of hydrogen aircraft

Posted by kachalo on 26 ноября, 2021 in graminaceous | Short Link

Today, when International Civil Aviation Day is celebrated, let’s talk about the emission-free future of aviation. Recently, the European aircraft manufacturing corporation Airbus spoke about how it sees its future aircraft. Now, when environmental issues are more pressing than ever before, and all segments of the global transport industry are undergoing a process of their transformation on the way to a decarbonized future, one of the main topics is the creation of environmentally friendly aircraft. Every day around the world, at least until this year’s crisis, about 50,000 planes were flown. There were approximately 20 million flights, passenger and cargo planes per year. And of course they were one of the largest contributors to air pollution, burning millions of tons of aviation kerosene in their engines. In 2019 alone, aviation emitted more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Back in the 80s of the last century, a cryogenic aviation project was being developed in the USSR. It was an experimental aircraft # KB Tupolev

On his account there are many projects of Tupolev aircraft, including the legendary Tu-134 and Tu-154. So you need to understand that the most experienced designers began to create the Soviet hydrogen aircraft, with decades of successful work behind them, a whole list of models put on the wing, and thousands of production aircraft.

The hydrogen # tu-155 was equipped with two turbofan engines «NK-8-2» with a total thrust of 21 tons and a turbojet «NK-88» running on hydrogen. A liquid hydrogen tank with a volume of 20 m³ could allow the aircraft to fly up to 3000 km, with a maximum speed of about 1000 km / h, and a «ceiling» of up to 12 km. And then the most important thing. The first flight of the Tu-155 took place in the spring of 1988. Then he took to the air more than 100 times, while setting 14 world records. But time was against him. There was a process of destructuring and collapse of the # USSR, and the project of the hydrogen aircraft was first transformed by # cng, and then completely «put on the back burner.» And if now the topic of refusing to use fossil fuels in transport is not very popular in Russia, then in Europe, taking the Soviet project as an example, Airbus with all seriousness, the necessary funding and we have modern technologies, has begun to create a series of hydrogen-fuel aircraft.

Airbus, guided by European environmental policy, relies on hydrogen as a fuel for its future aircraft. The company has been engaged in these developments for five years, and now they are entering the stage of creating a workable prototype that does not pollute the air of the planet. Airbus works in two directions: the creation of a turbojet by-pass engine, in which the hydrogen combustion process takes place, as well as a scheme of classical hydrogen fuel cells that generate electricity for electric impellers, or conventional screw, but electric motors.

Cross-sectoral partnerships are the key phrase here. It’s just that the forces of some classic aircraft builders will not be able to make such a technology workable, and the Airbus specialists themselves speak directly about this. They emphasize that one of the main tasks on the way of creating a hydrogen aircraft is to ensure reliable storage of the required volume of hydrogen on board the aircraft. Tanks must be lightweight, strong, airtight, and well insulated at the same time. And this is practically space technology. Therefore, specialists from the engineering department are involved in the implementation of the project.

Airbus SE has five years to build and launch a commercially viable hydrogen-fueled aircraft. This project enjoys the comprehensive support of the governments of France, Spain and Germany. This is a titanic work that will ultimately lead to the restructuring of the entire global aviation industry. This can only be compared to what Elon Musk did by making Tesla the world’s leading car company, and now all the old automakers are rebuilding their strategies and production for electric vehicles. The same will happen with aviation. For large aircraft, hydrogen is a natural stage in evolution, after kerosene. It can either be burned directly or used in fuel cells. Most of the hydrogen required will be produced by electrolysis in offshore wind farms or nuclear power plants. Hydrogen can also be obtained by decomposing natural gas, but this is not a very environmentally friendly technology, and its prospects are questionable. The fact that hydrogen will become one of the most important elements of a decarbonized future is also said.

As for lithium batteries in aviation, then, most likely, they will become the lot of small aircraft.

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Let me also remind you that in small aviation the project of an aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells was implemented in California by our former compatriot


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