At Airbus, we believe hydrogen is one of the most promising decarbonisation technologies for aviation. This is why we consider hydrogen to be an important technology pathway to achieve our ambition of bringing a low-carbon commercial aircraft to market by 2035. 

The next frontier in alternative-propulsion technology

Hydrogen is a high-potential technology with a specific energy-per-unit mass that is three times higher than traditional jet fuel. If generated from renewable energy through electrolysis, hydrogen emits no CO2 emissions, thereby enabling renewable energy to potentially power large aircraft over long distances but without the undesirable by-product of CO2 emissions.

Because hydrogen has a lower volumetric energy density, the visual appearance of future aircraft will likely change. This is to better accommodate hydrogen storage solutions that will be bulkier than existing jet fuel storage tanks.

Airbus is currently a member of the Hydrogen Council to benefit from the huge cross-industry experience on hydrogen.

Two primary uses for hydrogen in aviation

Hydrogen has been safely used in the aerospace and automobile industries for decades. The aviation industry’s challenge now is to take this decarbonised energy carrier and adapt it to commercial aviation’s needs. 

At Airbus, we see two primary uses for hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen propulsion: Hydrogen can be combusted through modified gas-turbine engines or converted into electrical power that complements the gas turbine via fuel cells. The combination of both creates a highly efficient hybrid-electric propulsion chain powered entirely by hydrogen.
     
  • Synthetic fuels: Hydrogen can be used to create e-fuels, which are generated exclusively through renewable energy. 

We expect to make the necessary decisions on the best combination of hydrogen technologies by 2025.

A high-potential technology

Renewable hydrogen is expected to be an alternative fuel  solution for several industries. And we believe the aviation industry should be no exception: it is estimated that hydrogen has the potential to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions by up to 50%.

We collaborate with a variety of industry players, including energy providers and airports, to ensure hydrogen can help us to take significant steps towards decarbonising aviation.

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ZEROe

Towards the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft

Latest news

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Airbus welcomes London Gatwick to global hydrogen hub network
Airbus has teamed up with London Gatwick, easyJet and Air Products, the world’s largest hydrogen supplier, to expand hydrogen capability and infrastructure in the UK as the manufacturer moves closer to its target of getting a hydrogen powered aircraft in the sky by 2035.
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Airbus, Aena, Air Nostrum, Iberia, Exolum and Repsol join forces to study the creation of the first aviation hydrogen hub in Spain
Airbus, Aena, Air Nostrum, Iberia, Exolum and Repsol are partnering to study the creation of the first hydrogen airport hub located in Spain.
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Airbus takes superconductivity research for hydrogen-powered aircraft a step further
Airbus UpNext, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus, has launched a new technological demonstrator to accelerate the maturation of superconducting technologies for use in electric propulsion systems of a future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
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