Europe-based global major aerospace group Airbus has announced that it is strengthening both its research capabilities regarding the future use of hydrogen in aviation and its innovation infrastructure in Spain. It was doing so by creating a new entity within its wholly-owned innovation subsidiary Airbus UpNext, and establishing a third Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC), both of them located in Spain.
“Establishing Airbus UpNext and the ZEDC in Spain strengthens our Research & Technology footprint in the country and ensures the involvement, from the start, of some of the best experts to support our zero-emission ambition,” affirmed Airbus Chief Technical Officer Sabine Klauke. Airbus UpNext serves to accelerate the development of new technologies by rapidly producing and scaling demonstrators. The function of the ZEDCs is to develop new technologies to allow the achievement of zero emissions flight.
The Spanish ZEDC (the other two such units are in Bremen in Germany and in Nantes, in France; both were established in June this year) would be focused on three main research areas. These were: energy for non-propulsive applications, fuel cell cooling and fibre optical systems, and carbon fibre cryogenic liquid hydrogen fuel tanks.
“The tank development is done in a coordinated approach with the other Airbus national entities,” noted the group in its statement. “These technologies are critical to fuel a future zero-emission aircraft, supporting the goal of an entry-into-service by 2035.”
The Spanish Airbus UpNext unit will, to start off with, be responsible for both the study and demonstration of non-propulsive hydrogen energy technologies. It will also handle improving air-to-air refuelling operations through the application of the latest ‘vision-based’ technologies. It will access and employ the expertise of the Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Airbus Defence and Space, and Airbus Helicopters operations in Spain. It will also source new talent and new suppliers, in order to be able to review, develop and validate potential innovations in both products and services, allowing radical technological advances.