Ready travel times and reduced environmental impact are among the main features of the new aircraft. The project consists of a hydrogen vehicle with no carbon emissions.
Sometime soon, the way we travel could be completely revolutionized. The Aerospace Technology Institute has unveiled its FlyZero project: a new hydrogen-powered aircraft concept that would allow passengers to travel anywhere in the world with zero carbon emissions, reduced travel time and environmental impact. The first flights between the U.S., Australia and London are expected to launch as early as the mid-2030s. The hydrogen-powered vehicle would travel at the same speed as a conventional airliner, but with a significantly increased range.
Hydrogen's potential for future travel
"Pioneering research by the Aerospace Technology Institute", said Jet Zero CEO Emma Gilthorpe, in a statement, "highlights the potential of hydrogen in delivering zero-carbon global connectivity. This revolutionary green technology looks set to play a key role in the decarbonization of flight." The goal of the project is to ensure safe flights with reduced carbon consumption.
The aircraft would use liquid hydrogen, a fuel that has been studied for years for both airplanes and cars, which produces far more energy than aviation kerosene but does not release CO2 when in use. In addition to the climate benefits, liquid hydrogen weighs about one-third as much as kerosene for the same flight trip, allowing the aircraft to increase its range to reduce mid-flight layovers.
Hydrogen airplane features
Each airplane should have two large tanks of cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen in the rear, with two smaller tanks in the front to balance it out. In traditional airliners, the fuel is stored in the wings, but placing it in the front and rear eliminates the need for extra aerodynamic structures to keep the vehicle aloft. Designed by the Aerospace Technology Institute, UK, the team believes the project could present a huge opportunity for consumers and governments in reducing carbon emissions while creating new jobs.
Although hydrogen seems like a promising option for the future of land, air and sea travel, it still presents significant challenges. Storage at cryogenic temperatures makes vehicle design difficult, and although hydrogen has zero carbon emissions during combustion, the production method starts with reforming methane to steam, which uses fossil fuels and produces carbon dioxide. Other options are therefore being explored to make H2 production greener.
In the meantime, also in England, there are several projects to switch from the use of natural gas for heating to hydrogen. As for travel, they're looking at ways to power ships and planes with air and sunlight, while a new source of clean energy for the future could come from bismuth.