ZEROe (Zero Emission Aircraft)

Airbus unveiled three ZEROe commercial aircraft concepts which aims to enter the market at the latest in 2035. Each of these concepts represents a different approach to achieving "Zero emission (1) ” exploring various technological paths and aerodynamic configurations.

(1) de CO2 in flight.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emissions absorption

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Financing low-carbon producers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

As fully part of the global aviation decarbonisation strategy (50% reduction in global fleet emissions compared to 2005 in 2050 and climate neutrality by 2060), Airbus has the ambition to develop the first “zero emission commercial aircraft (1)” in the world by 2035 using hydrogen as a mode of propulsion. (1) Zero Emissions of CO2 in flight

Hydrogen could significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation. Hydrogen eliminates in-flight CO2 emissions and can be produced quasi carbon-free. Considering also the non-CO2 emissions and the uncertainty of these effects, the combustion of hydrogen and electric propulsion by fuel cell are the most effective means of reducing the climate impact in flight.

 

In an unprecedented R&T effort, Airbus presented three ZEROe concepts in September 2020 :

  • "Turboprop": powered by two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines driving six-bladed propellers and capable of carrying up to 100 passengers on a journey of between 1,500 and 2,000 km.
  • “Turbojet”: with two hybrid hydrogen turbojets, capable of transporting 120 to 200 passengers over a distance of more than 3,500 km.
  • “Integrated fuselage aircraft”: undoubtedly the most innovative, with an exceptionally wide cabin, offering multiple possibilities for the storage and distribution of hydrogen. In this example, the cryogenic storage tanks are placed under the wing and the thrust is generated by two hybrid hydrogen turbojets.

 

These three ZEROe concepts make it possible to explore a variety of configurations and technologies using hydrogen as a mode of propulsion to replace conventional kerosene. These concepts will make it possible to select the best technologies and the most suitable market segments for this new generation of aircraft. Following this development exercise, an aircraft program will be launched around 2026-2028 for marketing no later than 2035.

To make the hydrogen airplane possible, several technologies are studied and under development such as lightweight cryogenic hydrogen tanks and fuel cell systems; liquid hydrogen (LH2) distribution systems, turbines capable of burning hydrogen with low NOx emissions and the development of efficient ground refueling technologies allowing flow rates comparable to those of kerosene.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

  • Emission scopes
  • Description and quantification of associated GHG emissions
  • Clarification on the calculation

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 3 - Hydrogen-powered aircraft

  • The placing on the market of hydrogen propulsion planes (without CO2 emissions in operations) will significantly reduce Scope 3 “Use of Products Sold” (currently 63.5 g eCO2 / passenger.km - 2020 value See report Airbus annual) - with 100% of H2 products sold, scope 3 would drop to almost 0 (using green and carbon-free hydrogen)

Avoided Emissions - Hydrogen-powered aircraft

  • The dissemination of this type of aircraft in existing fleets will make it possible to decarbonise international aviation well beyond air emissions in France, which represent only ca 23.4 MT (2019) of which 4.8 MT for domestic flights against 915 MT for international fleets (2019).

Le passage à l’Hydrogène implique de facto la suppression des émissions de CO2 en opérations.

Une utilisation d’Hydrogène « vert et durable » obtenu à partir d’électricité quasi totalement décarbonée permet de limiter le CO2 « amont » associé à la fabrication de l’H2.

Key points

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Invested amount

Confidential

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Starting date of the project

2020

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Project localisation

Toulouse, Garonne

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Confidential at this stage

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

Aviation decarbonization in accordance with the established roadmap

Development of sustainable mobility offer

Maintaining a competitive and eco-efficient aviation industry

The technologies developed for future hydrogen aircraft will not apply to just one type of aircraft. They will inaugurate an incremental deployment of zero-emission propulsion in various segments of the air transport market.

With the entire aeronautics sector (equipment manufacturers, engine manufacturers, etc.), energy providers, airports, etc. and other potential users (maritime;.) for the setting-up of a supply Hub

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Contact the company carrying the project :

christophe.arnold@airbus.com françois.guillaumel@airbus.com

Airbus’s other projects :