Starting signal for green kerosene from Germany

The industrial production of synthetic paraffin in Germany is in the starting blocks. "Green Fuels Hamburg" with Airbus as a partner is planning the production of sustainable aviation fuels for climate-neutral aviation. The technology could become an export hit. 

Under the name "Green Fuels Hamburg", Airbus, Uniper, Siemens Energy, Sasol EcoFT and Airbus want to produce sustainable fuels for aviation. It is the first commercial project on an industrial scale to produce synthetic, CO2-neutral fuels with hydrogen in Germany. The technology used has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from aviation. 

The four project partners cover the entire value-added process for the production of CO2-neutral paraffin, so-called power-to-liquid or PtL paraffin for short. They are supported by the Technical University of Hamburg as a research partner as well as the Hamburg Senate and Hamburg Airport. 

The Key to Sustainable Flying 

"Green Fuels Hamburg" aims to make a significant contribution to decarbonising the aviation sector. The plant required for this is to produce at least 10,000 tonnes of green paraffin annually for aviation in the first expansion stage from 2026. This alone could provide 20% of the blending quota of PtL paraffin specified by the German government in the PtL roadmap from 2026. 

On 25 March, the A380 took off with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Blagnac Airport in Toulouse.

First test flight of an A380 with 100% sustainable aviation fuel in one engine.

The green hydrogen for Green Fuels Hamburg comes from electrolysis with wind power. Such electricity-based aviation fuels are the key to sustainable flying, because unlike other modes of transport, aviation has no alternatives to liquid energy sources. However, electricity-based paraffin is only available in tiny quantities so far. Green Fuels Hamburg will therefore make an important contribution to the ramp-up of PtL production in Germany and could become a technology export hit. 

Hamburg the Ideal Location for Major Project

As one of the world's leading locations for innovation and aviation, Hamburg offers the best conditions for this pioneering large-scale project, as the region is close to renewable energies and has the necessary customers in the form of Airbus and the airlines at Hamburg Airport. 

Airbus has been committed to the use and market development of sustainable fuels for several years. Even today, the existing fleet of Airbus aircraft could be fuelled with up to 50% SAF - if sufficient SAF were available. So there is untapped potential here. We want to achieve certification for 100% SAF use by 2030 at the latest. Most of our Beluga flights are operated from Hamburg (and Bremen) with an approx. 18% blend.

 

Status: Sept 21

Zero emissions: Commission Launches Alliance at ILA

The European Commission, ILA Berlin’s strategic partner this year, launched the Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation (AZEA) at the air show on 24 June. The goal: making Europe the pioneer in climate-neutral flying. 

The theme of this year’s ILA was ‘Pioneering Aerospace’, as the focus has been on innovation, new technologies, and climate-neutral flying. Technological advances, the regulatory framework, and the development of the infrastructure for sustainable aviation fuels are necessary prerequisites for climate-neutral aviation. Solutions for these crucial areas were presented at ILA Berlin.

EU Commissioner Launches Alliance  

The goal of the Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation is to prepare the European aviation eco-system as quickly as possible for the introduction of hydrogen-powered and electric aircraft. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton expressed his optimism at the launch of the Alliance at ILA: ‘The European industry is strongly involved in this effort to decarbonise aviation. We can be proud that Europe is leading the way to zero-emission flight and the development of hydrogen and electric propulsion. These technologies will be key to this effort.”

 

 

Minister Habeck mit Airbus Vorstandschef Obermann, Defence & Space CEO Schöllhorn und CTO Klauke, © Messe Berlin GmbH

Minister Habeck mit Airbus Vorstandschef Obermann, Defence & Space CEO Schöllhorn und CTO Klauke, © Messe Berlin GmbH

Minister Habeck mit Airbus Vorstandschef Obermann, Defence & Space CEO Schöllhorn und CTO Klauke, © Messe Berlin GmbH 

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury and Airbus Defence and Space CEO Michael Schöllhorn represented Airbus as well as the German and French aviation industries. They voiced their support for AZEA whilst pushing for a swifter transformation of the sector. According to Mr Faury, ‘Zero-emission aircraft by 2035 and net zero-emissions by 2050 means not more of same, but a complete transformation. What do we miss? Speed! For that we need to create an ecosystem. We need all the players onboard, and the Alliance is to bring all of them together’. Schöllhorn added ’There is no sustainability without security, and sustainability promotes peace and security, so the two are mutually reinforcing‘. 

Chancellor: ‘Climate neutral and competitive’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already painted the picture for the carbon-free mobility of the future during his opening speech at ILA Berlin. In order to realise this vision as soon as possible, the German Government had announced its action plan to facilitate climate-neutral aviation ahead of ILA. It envisages Germany as a pioneer of CO2-neutral aviation whilst maintaining a level playing field internationally. ‘Climate neutral and competitive – this is our goal. This is no more contradiction in this‘, declared Chancellor Scholz, upon receiving a model of a ZEROe from Airbus apprentices from Hamburg. Airbus intends to bring a zero-emission aircraft powered by green hydrogen to market by 2025. 

The Federal Minister for Economics Robert Habeck similarly emphasised the need for Europe to become a hub for climate-neutral flying. He was informed of the latest technological developments concerning ZEROe by Chairman René Obermann, Defence and Space CEO Michael Schöllhorn and CTO Sabine Klauke at the Airbus Stand. Hundreds of engineers are already working on turning ZEROe into reality. 

Airbus and Linde driving the change in hydrogen infrastructure 

The requisite construction for sustainable hydrogen infrastructure is also making headway. Airbus and Linde, a leading engineering and industrial gases company, signed a Declaration of Intent at ILA, agreeing to collaborate on the development of hydrogen infrastructure at airports worldwide. Both companies will define and commence pilot projects at several airports as of early 2023. Moreover, they have the resources to analyse Power-to-Liquid fuels – a form of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) derived from synthetically produced liquid hydrocarbon.

ILA convincingly demonstrated how industry has been able to swiftly develop the necessary technology for the energy transition in the sky. Nevertheless, as with the energy transformation in other sectors, this demands political will if it is to succeed. The Federal Government and European Commission threw their support behind this goal during ILA22.

 

Status: June 2022

Toulouse Declaration: EU and Industry United in Pursuit of Climate Neutrality

A new milestone for climate protection: the Declaration of Toulouse sees a broad coalition of 35 states and 146 interest groups agree upon a common goal for air travel: net zero emissions by 2050.  

On the 4th February 2022, the ‘Declaration of Toulouse’ was signed by European governments, the European Commission as well as numerous relevant industry associations. This high-level summit took place at the Airbus Headquarters, within the scope of the French EU Council Presidency. It is the first common global initiative of its kind. Several signatories have committed themselves to a shared vision and joint action, in order to realize the long-term climate goals of the EU and the Paris Agreement. 

The Declaration builds upon the aims of the ‘Destination 2050’ Roadmap, where, in 2021, the aviation industry had already enshrined their existing commitment to climate neutrality by 2050. The Declaration of Toulouse ensures that industry and governments collaborate and rapidly agree upon concrete measures through exchange and discussion. New aircraft and engine technologies as well as the development of sustainable aviation fuels will play a key role in achieving this. Airbus plans to bring the first zero emission aircraft to market by 2035, fuelled by sustainable hydrogen.

 

Status: March 2022

 

Turboprop

 Zero Emission Aircraft ZEROe powered by hydrogen.

Airbus presents concepts for zero-emission aircraft

The world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft is taking shape. Airbus has presented three concept aircraft to deliver on this ambition by 2035. Hydrogen used as an energy source plays a key role. For the energy transition in aviation to succeed, efforts by society as a whole are now necessary.

Aviation is inching one step closer to climate-neutral flying. Airbus has unveiled three concept aircraft for the world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft with an expected entry-into-service by 2035. Each concept explores a different aerodynamic configuration on how to integrate hybrid-hydrogen technology. Over the long term, Airbus aims to lead the transition to zero-emission technologies for aircraft in order to support the long-term decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

Hydrogen as an important energy carrier

In all three concept aircraft, hydrogen serves as the primary energy carrier. Airbus is currently exploring alternative-propulsion systems fuelled by hydrogen, including hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, hydrogen fuel cells and the combination of both via a hybrid-hydrogen propulsion chain. Hydrogen is a high-potential zero-emission technology that, once mature, is expected to complement other emission-reduction solutions for aviation, such as sustainable aviation fuels.

ZEROe is an Airbus concept aircraft. In the turboprop configuration, two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead

The turboprop concept aircraft features two hybrid-hydrogen engines. 

Energy transition in aviation

The widespread adoption of hydrogen to fuel future aircraft requires decisive action by all parties. Climate-neutral flying is of concern for all of society. For the energy transition in aviation be successful, close cooperation between governments, institutions, and technology and industrial partners and suppliers will be essential.

The priority today is to create incentives to encourage the market adoption of hydrogen. These incentives will help support the growth of the hydrogen economy, including the development and provision of hydrogen infrastructure and transport, the cost-effective industrial production of green hydrogen via renewable energies, and the establishment of hydrogen hubs at airports.

 

Status: Sept 2020

Turbofan

ZEROe

The concept aircraft

Unmanned aircraft against climate change 

Climate change has noticeable impacts on the lives of many people. The utilisation of drones and satellite data has an important role to play to better understand changes in the climate and to find innovative solutions to this problem.

The World Economic Forum in Davos has emphasised the role drones can play in the fight against climate change. Unmanned aircraft are in a unique position regarding environmental and climate questions. These aircraft can observe changes in the climate, can help combat ramifications and can be deployed in unreachable areas. The detailed and reliable observation of the climate forms the basis of a robust understanding of climate change. Numerous satellites circle the globe at all hours of the day, tracking all developments. 

Strengthening farming despite climate change

Weather phenomena and rainfall patterns are fundamentally changing in many parts of the world. Agriculture is facing existential problems: absent or overdue rainfall, persistent drought, flooding and heat waves. Modern agriculture must stringently plan planting and harvesting seasons based on these changing patterns. Data procured form space and from unmanned aircraft can help. Examples of this are the services Verde and AgNeo. They deliver data from space to make weather predictions and crop production more precise. This makes farming more efficient and, at the same time, more sustainable.

Patrolling the oceans with data from space

The competition for valuable resources in international waters is increasing. This results in significant overfishing of the seas. In order to secure a sustainable and fair use of the oceans, observation and control of vulnerable locations are of vital importance. The Ocean Finder Programme plays a key role in this mission. This programme uses satellite images to follow ships, to recognise illicit activity and to prepare maritime missions. This results in safer and more sustainable seas. 

Avoiding deforestation from space

Deforestation accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions. Often, the observation of forests is complicated and the difference between reforestation and deforestation is difficult to determine. This is changing thanks to the innovative satellite service Starling, which delivers high-definition images of forests taken from space, all year long. These images enable precise observation and decided counteraction against deforestation.

Climate change is changing the world. Innovative solutions help to overcome these effects. Data from above play a central role—whether that data comes from space or from unmanned aircraft. This guarantees the prosperity and security of the modern world.

Status: February 2020

Fuel dumping: An internationally recognised standard procedure for emergencies

Recently there have been reports that aircraft have occasionally dumped kerosene before landing. There is no such dumping of fuel in regular flight operations.

Fuel dumping is subject to a mandatory internationally recognised standard procedure to be used exclusively for air traffic safety. This procedure is only used in rare emergency situations. According to the German Aviation Association (BDL), this happened on average only 21 times a year between 2010 and 2019, so it is extremely rare.

The need for this measure may arise from the fact that the take-off weight of large passenger aircraft may exceed the maximum permissible landing weight, depending on the amount of fuel used. If this difference between the maximum take-off weight and the maximum permissible landing weight is particularly large, the aircraft must be able to dump fuel for safety reasons. Therefore, only long range aircraft such as the A350 or A380 have a fuel dump mechanism. For smaller aircraft, such as those in the A320 family, this is not necessary because they are lighter. When designing these systems, the aircraft manufacturers strictly abide by the requirements from certification authorities such as EASA in Europe.

Dumping means that an aircraft can land safely during a medical emergency, for example, where every second counts. Other factors also play a role in the decision to land, such as aircraft design, runway length and current weather conditions. As a general rule, no aircraft operator gains from dumping valuable fuel for no reason and without there being an emergency. Such a measure would not be cost effective either.

The implementation of such an emergency measure is done in consultation with the air traffic control unit in charge, such as German Air Traffic Control (DFS), and only at a minimum flight altitude in an airspace with low air traffic density over uninhabited areas. In addition, the amount of kerosene dumped is strictly limited.

Further information can be found on the German website of the BDL.

Status: Sept 2018

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