Airbus takes off towards a future of zero emission aircraft thanks to hydrogen

The aeronautical company has announced its participation in a project to develop zero-emission aircraft thanks to the use of this

The Airbus aeronautical consortium has announced a partnership agreement with CFM International, owned equally by GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, in order to work together on an aircraft development program whose engine would work with hydrogen combustion. This project, which would make it possible for the first time in history to achieve aircraft with zero emissions thanks to hydrogen, is part of a time frame that would end in 2035, the date on which the first aircraft of this type is expected to be put into service.

To this end, Airbus has reported that the combustion engine prototype, whose tests will take place on the ground and in flight, will be developed on the design of an A380 that is part of the company’s flight test bench and is equipped with tanks of liquid hydrogen. Thus, it will be the company itself that defines the hydrogen propulsion system requirements, supervises the flight tests and provides the A380 platform for the prototype engine test.

For its part, CFM International will modify the combustion chamber, fuel system and control system of a GE PassportTM turbofan engine to adapt it to this type of sustainable fuel. For the feasibility of the project, CFM International will carry out an intensive program of ground tests before being able to start flight tests of the A380.

This announcement is part of a moment of total disruption in the sector, which is facing the enormous challenge of achieving a transition towards a sustainable model. Something that both CFM and Airbus have put on record through their support for the Air Transport Action Group last October 2021, setting the challenge of achieving an aviation sector with net zero carbon emissions aircraft by the year 2050.

How do current aircraft engines work?
The aeronautical sector is one of the human activities where more demand and rigor is demanded when it comes to manufacturing the parts that are part of an aircraft, but is the reason why such a heavy machine is capable of to take flight? The reality is that yes, but, like everything in this life, it has a rational and simple explanation.

Imagine that we take a balloon filled with air and we loosen the knot. What’s the score? That the air trapped inside the balloon seeks to exit, abruptly, through the open end of the balloon, so our colored balloon will shoot out in any direction. Yes, dear reader, this is how the jet engine of an airplane works, by means of the impulse of a current of air that comes out through the end of the engine. This has little to do with the aforementioned zero emission aircraft. Well, let’s continue.

By now, you may have realized that it’s a bit more complex than this, and that if we want to know why an airplane flies, we have to dig a little deeper. Here we go.

The big blocks of a jet engine
A conventional jet engine is divided into four main blocks: intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.

At the front (intake), a large propeller sucks in the air and drives it both inside the engine and outside, surrounding the turbine core. It is through this core, located, how could it be otherwise, right in the center of the engine, where the air moves towards the compressor.

Do you remember our beloved balloon? Well, just like when you press it, the air that reaches the compression zone is brutally pressed, passing to the combustion chamber, where it mixes with the engine fuel. Imagine a great current of hot air colossally expanding in an airtight chamber, creating a high-velocity jet that is projected towards the rear of an aircraft’s engine as it takes off, never better said, forward.

The higher the speed, the greater the thrust force of the motor. At that time, where the temperature of our jet engine reaches 1,500 degrees Celsius, almost nothing, right? The parts demonstrate the quality and demand to which they are subjected. Nothing can go wrong.

The jet of hot air also spins the plane’s turbine, which is connected to the front of the engine by a shaft. As if it were a windmill. Think that each blade of this high pressure turbine pushes with a force similar to that of a Formula 1 car.

The excess hot air leaves at high speed through the rear part of the engine (exhaust), generating the energy necessary for the plane to reach its destination on time. This is how an airplane flies.

If after all, you still haven’t figured out how a jet engine works, don’t worry. Surely this video will clarify your doubts: