Europe-based global major aerospace group Airbus has announced that it has set up a Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) in the UK. The ZEDC, which is located at Filton, near Bristol, in England, has already started work. Filton is also the home of one of the company’s main airliner wing design, engineering, production and support facilities, and houses Airbus’ wing test and development centre.
The work of the ZEDC will be focused on hydrogen fuel technologies for aircraft. A priority is the development of a cryogenic fuel system that will be cost-competitive. This will be essential if Airbus’ ZEROe (zero emission) airliner is to successfully enter service by 2035.
The new ZEDC will be supported by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), which is a partnership between UK industry and government. The British government has guaranteed funding of £685-million over the next three years to the ATI, to help develop ultra-low-emission and zero-carbon technologies for aircraft.
Airbus has already established ZEDCs in Spain, Germany and France, focused on different technologies needed to make cryogenic hydrogen fuel systems practical and commercially viable. The centres at Madrid in Spain and Stade in Germany are working on composite structure technologies for liquid hydrogen tanks, while those at Nantes in France and Bremen in Germany are developing metal tanks for liquid hydrogen. Ground testing for a fully functional liquid hydrogen tank is scheduled for next year and flight testing is meant to start in 2026.
The Filton ZEDC will, stated Airbus in its press release, “cover the full product capabilities from components up to whole system and cryogenic testing. End-to-end fuel systems development, a speciality of Airbus in the UK, is one of the most complex technologies crucial to the performance of a future hydrogen aircraft.”
“Establishing the ZEDC in the UK expands Airbus’ in-house industrial capabilities to design, develop, test and manufacture cryogenic hydrogen storage tanks and related systems for the ZEROe project across Airbus’ four home countries,” affirmed Airbus chief technical officer Sabine Klauke. “This, coupled with our partnership with ATI, will allow us to leverage our respective expertise to realise the potential of hydrogen technology to support the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.”