Airbus, the renowned European aerospace manufacturer, is reportedly moving away from battery power and reorienting its focus towards using hydrogen as the primary fuel source for future aircraft innovations. The company is taking this step due to rising concerns that the, once promising, battery technology is not advancing fast enough to be adopted into large airplane designs.

Airbus has already unveiled three innovative conceptual designs of which, one features a blended wing fuselage design, with the other two based on the traditional twinjet and turboprop airframes. Through these designs, the company has committed to explore and develop a zero emission aircraft that uses hydrogen as fuel. These aircraft are estimated to enter the market by 2035.

While speaking about the same, Glen Llewellyn, Chief of zero emission aircraft at Airbus, stated that the airframer has observed a decoupling between the speed of battery technology development and its 15 -year zero-emission aircraft timeframe. Batteries are not developing at the required speed to achieve the company’s ambition.

Due to the economic collapse of air transport sector because of the pandemic-driven travel restrictions, companies had to rethink their investments priorities. Owing to this, early in 2020, the European aircraft manufacturer canceled the E-FAN X hybrid electric demonstrator program, prior to the first takeoff of the company’s modified BAE Systems Avro RJ 100.

Llewellyn further added that batteries can still prove to be viable for smaller vehicles that are used for moving in urban areas. However, hydrogen has a much higher energy density compared to even the best batteries, which is near to the levels needed by commercial airplanes.

The new propulsion model of the company would be equipped with a gas turbine that would combust hydrogen in a manner similar to way conventional aircraft engines combust jet fuel. This gas turbine will be driven by fuel cells that would power an electric motor that would be capable of injecting power in the aircraft turbine shaft.

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