Several months ago, Rolls-Royce and easyJet announced their partnership on the H2ZERO project, which aims to create a hydrogen-based propulsion system for aircraft.
The goal of this project is to develop environmentally friendly, zero-emission transportation options in the aviation industry. As part of the project, a modified version of the A 2100-A propeller-driven gas turbine engine has been built and tested using hydrogen produced from green sources such as wind and tidal power. According to Rolls-Royce, the ground tests were successful and the next steps are being planned, including testing a full-scale hydrogen version of the Pearl 15 engine.
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren emphasized the importance of creating practical and usable engines, as manufacturing companies will only develop environmentally friendly equipment if there is demand for it from airlines.
One of the major challenges in creating hydrogen-powered aircraft is finding a way to store hydrogen on board the plane. This is difficult because hydrogen must be kept at cryogenic temperatures, which means that the storage tanks must be maintained at a temperature of minus 253 degrees Celsius during flight.
Airbus is working on this issue and has already begun designing and prototyping what it calls the “cold heart” of the aircraft, although initial testing is being done using nitrogen rather than hydrogen. The company is focused on being practical and creating operational prototypes as soon as possible, so it is already working on the next phase of tank development, which will involve testing tanks filled with hydrogen.
The preparation phase and testing are expected to be completed within the next year.
According to the current plan, the A380 aircraft will be installed with the new cryogenic tanks and undergo its first in-flight test between 2026 and 2028. These tanks will be a key component in the company’s ZEROe family of aircraft, the first of which is expected to be introduced and commercially available by 2035.