Aerospace firms join hands to further liquid hydrogen fuel systems

Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker Aerospace will be developing hydrogen propulsion, via fuel cell or combustion and pave the way for net zero emissions 2050 target
Jijo Malayil
Aerospace firms join hands to develop liquid hydrogen-electric fuel systems for greener airplanes
Aerospace firms join hands to develop liquid hydrogen-electric fuel systems for greener airplanes

kyoshino / iStock 

Sustainable air travel is a critical step in achieving net zero targets around the world. Under a 1.5-degree scenario, aircraft emissions are anticipated to more than triple by 2050, consuming up to one-quarter of the global carbon budget. 

In a mission to find a viable alternative to fossil fuels, aerospace manufacturers Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker Aerospace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to investigate liquid hydrogen fuel system technologies for the next generation of zero-emission aircraft.

According to the firm, hydrogen propulsion, whether by fuel cells or combustion, is seen as a vital option for the aviation sector to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Their work will look at developing technologies supporting both hydrogen-electric and combustion applications.

"In developing the system, Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker will combine their extensive experience in the design, testing, certification, and manufacture of novel fuel systems for aerospace applications," GKN Aerospace said in a statement released yesterday (15 August). 

Commercial model by 2030

The planned liquid hydrogen fuel system partnership would benefit considerably from the existing H2GEAR effort, managed by GKN Aerospace and sponsored by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute, which will ground test a scalable hydrogen electric fuel cell propulsion system in 2025. 

According to GKN Aerospace, the goal is to integrate the whole scalable fuel system and propulsion system into a single flying test bed environment by the end of the decade.

The firm and the Paris Air Show signed an agreement in June to investigate an integrated flying demonstration of the end-to-end system.

According to preliminary research, such a system may accommodate a wide range of aircraft, including commuter flights (up to 19 passengers), business jets, and regional planes (up to 100 passengers). The system's scalability for bigger narrow-body aircraft is currently under investigation.

Helping lower emissions

Airplanes utilize fossil fuel, which not only emits CO2 but also has considerable warming non-CO2 impacts owing to nitrogen oxides (NOx), vapor trails, and cloud formation caused by aircraft height.

According to International Energy Agency, aviation contributed to two percent of worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022, growing faster than rail, road, or shipping in recent decades.

As worldwide travel demand rebounds following the Covid-19 epidemic, aircraft emissions will reach almost 800 Mt CO2, or around 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, in 2022.

"Hydrogen fuel systems play a critical role in achieving zero emissions in aviation and we are confident that this partnership will enable us to further advance our expertise in this area and drive the development of innovative solutions that support a more sustainable future," said Tracy Rice, VP Technology and Innovation for Parker Aerospace. 

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