Airbus-led consortium to pilot liquid hydrogen fuel at French airport

21st September 2021 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

France’s Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport will pilot a project, being developed by an Airbus-led consortium, to increase the use of hydrogen in aviation, both in aircraft and ground vehicles, the Europe-based global major aerospace group announced on Tuesday. Lyon-Saint Exupéry is one of the airports in the French VINCI Airports group, which owns and/or operates airports on four continents. The third member of the consortium is French industrial gases and services group Air Liquide. The ultimate aim is to help cut air travel’s carbon emissions.

The plan is that Lyon-Saint Exupéry will host the initial hydrogen facilities by 2023. This airport is VINCI Airports ‘centre for excellence for innovation’ and the initial step will be the construction of a hydrogen gas distribution station at the airport. This will, from 2023, be used to supply hydrogen to fuel the airport’s ground vehicles (which include buses and trucks as well as handling equipment vehicles) and vehicles belonging to partner companies. It would also fuel heavy goods vehicles driving around the airport.

From 2023 to 2030, the liquid hydrogen infrastructure will be developed so that it will be able to refuel future hydrogen-powered aircraft. And after 2030 the airport’s hydrogen infrastructure will be developed from producing liquid hydrogen to also providing mass distribution of the fuel.

In parallel with the development of this pilot project, the three consortium partner companies will also study the potential of installing liquid hydrogen production, storage and supply facilities at all of VINCI’s European airports, for use on the ground and in aircraft. This study will be completed by 2030.

“This partnership illustrates the partners’ shared commitment to decarbonising air travel and is a major step forward for the development of hydrogen across the airport ecosystem,” affirmed Airbus. “It relies on the know-how of Airbus in commercial aircraft, on Air Liquide’s expertise in mastering the entire hydrogen value chain (production, liquefaction, storage and distribution) and on the global reach of VINCI Airports, the leading private airport operator with 45 airports in 12 countries, which will help create the desired network.”