Lufthansa Technik, Hamburg Airport and two aviation development centres are working together to find ways of storing hydrogen that can be used as fuel for aircraft.
According to a statement from Lufthansa’s maintenance department, the City of Hamburg, the German Aviation Center and the Center for Applied Aviation are also involved in the project. A technology for handling liquid hydrogen will be developed and tested, which will allow storage and maintenance at the airport and can even be used by various aircraft. At Lufthansa Technik’s Hamburg base, a decommissioned Airbus A320 will be converted into a test aircraft to study the use of liquid hydrogen.
Airbus would introduce hydrogen propulsion for regional and narrow-body aircraft from 2035. As the existing infrastructure is not adequate for storage, a new one will have to be designed. These options and impacts are being explored in this project. The first phase will last until the end of this year, until which time the most important development projects should be identified and research on the basic concept should begin. The practical implementation will start in 2022, including the A320 conversion. A demonstrator of the technical solutions is planned to be ready in 2022.
In parallel, Airbus has already started developing fuel tanks that can store liquid hydrogen (LH2) at temperatures below minus 250 degrees Celsius. According to Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, the city of Hanseatic City is determined to become a “hydrogen metropolis” for aviation, so it is a logical step to support the project. Michael Eggenschwiler, head of Hamburg Airport, pointed out that climate-friendly aviation using liquid hydrogen is only possible if the airport infrastructure is perfectly suited to it. He also stressed that hydrogen is the green fuel of the future.