- The FlyZero project, led by the Aerospace Technology Institute and funded by the UK government, came up with a liquid hydrogen-powered midsize aircraft concept.
- The plane would fly 279 passengers non-stop from London to San Francisco or London to Auckland, New Zealand, with one-stop for refueling.
One of the nuts to crack while developing carbon-free transportation is flying. Commercial electric planes will not be feasible until batteries become more powerful and lightweight. The hydrogen-powered plane is another possible way forward, and a group has revealed what such a plane could look like.
The FlyZero project, led by the Aerospace Technology Institute and funded by the UK government, came up with a liquid hydrogen-powered midsize aircraft concept. The plane would fly 279 passengers non-stop from London to San Francisco or London to Auckland, New Zealand, with one-stop for refueling. With a 54-meter wingspan with two turbofan engines, the airplane would offer the “same speed and comfort as today’s aircraft” but no carbon emissions.
The ATI says its concept plane will have cryogenic fuel tanks in the rear fuselage, which will store hydrogen at -250 degrees Celsius (-418 degrees Fahrenheit). Two smaller “cheek” tanks along the forward fuselage will keep the plane in balance as fuel is used.
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We are years away from commercial hydrogen aircraft becoming a reality, though. The refueling infrastructure does not exist yet, and hydrogen is more expensive and challenging to store onboard than kerosene-based fuel. However, those types of planes might not be too much of a pipe dream.
By the middle of the 2030s, the ATI expects efficient hydrogen planes to be a more economical option than present planes. Other sectors are shifting toward hydrogen, likely to reduce supply costs.
The FlyZero project plans to publish many detailed findings next year, including concepts for regional, midsize aircraft, economic and market reports, narrow-bodied, roadmaps for the required tech, and a sustainability assessment.
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