Concept: British Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) has unveiled a concept for a midsize, long-haul airliner powered by liquid hydrogen called FlyZero liquid hydrogen airliner. It was developed as part of the FlyZero project backed by the UK Government and aims to realize zero-carbon emission commercial aviation by the end of the decade. The liquid hydrogen airliner also demonstrates the enormous potential of green liquid hydrogen for air travel, not only regionally or over small distances, but globally.

Nature of Disruption: Wings without fuel tanks, cryogenic liquid hydrogen tanks, fuel cells, and electrical power systems, and hydrogen gas turbines are among the technology ATI envisions merging. The aircraft would have a 177-foot wingspan and two turbofan engines driven by hydrogen direct combustion. To maintain balance as the fuel is burned, the fuel would be stored in two cryogenic fuel tanks in the aft fuselage and two smaller cheek tanks in the forward fuselage. ATI claims that the liquid hydrogen aircraft can carry 279 passengers halfway around the world without stopping or anywhere in the world with only one refueling stop. This means that a zero-carbon, non-stop trip could be conducted between London and San Francisco, or people could fly around the world at the same speed and comfort as present airlines from London to San Francisco, Auckland, New Zealand, with just one stop. The concept shows the potential of green liquid hydrogen, a lightweight fuel with three times the energy of kerosene and sixty times the energy of batteries per kilogram for air travel. Furthermore, when hydrogen is consumed, no CO2 is produced. 

Outlook: ATI’s midsize concepts set forth a new vision for the future of global air travel, keeping families, businesses, and nations connected without leaving a carbon footprint, at a time when the world is focused on solving climate change. The development of larger, longer-range aircraft allows new infrastructure to be concentrated in fewer international airports, speeding up the rollout of a worldwide network of zero-carbon flights and reducing emissions from long-haul flights. The project led by ATI has received $ 9.9M funding from the UK government and others. This could offer a better opportunity for the UK aerospace sector to gain market share, highly skilled jobs, and inward investment while also helping them fulfill its climate change goals. By 2026, ATI has committed $5.2B in public and commercial contributions for research. The French government is planning to invest $17B in green aviation projects, including hydrogen propulsion and biofuels, in June 2020.

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