The new demonstrator will be tested on the ground and in the air, using a modified Airbus A330 APU. The tests will take place at Airbus UpNext's facilities in Spain.
Airbus' long march towards the new frontier of hydrogen-powered engines is about to take another step forward. Airbus UpNext, the new technologies research division of Airbus, took advantage of the 2023 edition of the Paris Air Show to launch a new demonstrator to explore a new architecture for non-propulsive power generation through the use of hydrogen fuel cells.
Reducing CO2 and NoX emissions and noise pollution
The new demonstrator, dubbed HyPower, will be piloted from Airbus UpNext's facilities in Spain, thanks also to support from the Spanish government. Airbus UpNext will replace the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) on an Airbus A330 with a hydrogen fuel cell system that will generate electricity. As a reminder, an airliner's APU usually runs on conventional aviation fuel, and powers many of the aircraft's non-propulsive functions, such as air conditioning, in-flight lighting and avionics. The use of HyPower should also substantially reduce CO2 emissions, NoX (nitrogen oxide) emissions and also lower noise pollution compared with the use of a traditional APU.
Launched late 2025
"These tests will mark a new stage in our journey towards decarbonization and the ZEROe program (editor's note: Airbus' hydrogen/hybrid aircraft program) through an ambitious flight demonstrator that will take to the skies from late 2025," explains Michael Augello, President of Airbus UpNext. "We want to demonstrate the operability and integration of this system. We will demonstrate the system in real-life conditions, climbing to 25,000 feet for an hour, with ten kilos of hydrogen gas on board. However, we can't do this alone, and our cooperation with the Spanish government and external partners will be key elements in this series of tests", he adds. Airbus is still aiming to have a hydrogen-powered aircraft in the air by 2035.
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