The project showcases “the huge potential of liquid hydrogen powered aircraft as the UK drives for a cleaner and greener air travel future”.
A UK-backed research group revealed a design for a liquid-hydrogen-powered airliner.
According to the group behind the ‘FlyZero’ project, the plane could enable passengers to one day fly anywhere in the world with no carbon emissions.
The £15m project is funded by the government and was unveiled by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) ahead of the fourth meeting of the Jet Zero Council, which is chaired by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
This design is a mid-sized aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. It can fly 279 passengers around the world, non-stop, and with only one stop for refueling.
“This means that a zero carbon, non-stop flight could be operated between London and San Francisco, or that passengers could fly around the world from London to Auckland, New Zealand with just one stop, at the same speed and comfort as today’s aircraft,” the government said in a statement.
It added the project showcases: “the huge potential of liquid hydrogen powered aircraft as the UK drives for a cleaner and greener air travel future”.
ATI described the design of the aircraft as having a 54-metre wingspan. It will also have two turbofan engines that are powered by hydrogen combustion.
Cryogenic fuel tanks will be installed in the rear fuselage to store liquid hydrogen fuel at -250C. The plane will also have two smaller “cheek” tanks along the forward fuselage would keep the plane balanced as fuel is used.
Moreover, the midsize design is perfect to meet the demands of a sector of the market which account for 93% of aviation’s carbon emissions and are currently served by single aisle and widebody aircraft operations.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “These designs could define the future of aerospace and aviation. We are demonstrating that hydrogen can be used to replace fossil fuels by working with the industry.
“Fuelling planes sustainably will enable the public to travel as we do now, but in a way that doesn’t damage the planet. It will not just help us end climate change, but it will also open up huge industrial opportunities for the UK.
Currently, a commercial hydrogen aircraft is not economically viable since hydrogen is more expensive and difficult to store onboard than kerosene-based fuel.
Moreover, refueling infrastructure also doesn’t exist yet.
However, ATI believes that hydrogen aircrafts will be economically and efficiently operational by the mid-2030s. This is partly due to the fact that hydrogen is being used in other industries, which will likely reduce supply costs.
FlyZero’s project will publish detailed designs and market reports for regional, narrow-body, midsize and large aircraft by the beginning of next year.
FlyZero Project Director Chris Gear said: “At a time of global focus on tackling climate change, our midsize concept sets out a truly revolutionary vision for the future of global air travel keeping families, businesses and nations connected without the carbon footprint.
“This new dawn for aviation brings with it real opportunities for the UK aerospace sector to secure market share, highly skilled jobs and inward investment while helping to meet the UK’s commitments to fight climate change.”
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