Airbus has decided to concentrate its efforts for metallic hydrogen tanks in a complementary setup by creating Zero-Emission Development Centres (ZEDC) at its sites in Bremen (Germany) and in Nantes (France). The goal of the ZEDC is to achieve cost-competitive cryogenic tank manufacturing to support the successful future market launch of ZEROe and to accelerate the development of hydrogen-propulsion technologies. The design and integration of tank structures is crucial to the performance of a future hydrogen aircraft. The technology developments will cover the full product and industrial capabilities from elementary parts, assembly, systems integration and the cryogenic testing of the final liquid hydrogen (LH2) tank system. Both ZEDCs will be fully operational by 2023 to build LH2 tanks with a first flight test scheduled for 2025.
In line with Northern German regional and the Pays de Loire ambitions, Airbus will foster cross-industry collaboration to support the overall transition to hydrogen-propulsion technologies, as well as the associated ground-based infrastructure in the region. The tank is a safety-critical component, for which specific systems engineering is needed.
LH2 is more challenging than kerosene because it needs to be stored at -250 °C to liquefy and liquidity is needed for increased density. For commercial aviation, the challenge is to develop a component which can withstand repeated thermal and pressure cycling which an aircraft application demands. It is expected that near-term LH2 tank structures for commercial aircraft applications will be metallic, however the potential performance opportunities associated with carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer composites are high.
It is expected that near-term LH2 tank structures for commercial aircraft applications will be metallic, however the potential performance opportunities associated with carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer composites are high.