Infographic: Achieving Net-Zero Flight with Hydrogen

Aircraft manufacturers and airlines working toward net-zero emissions are developing electric-powered aircraft. Hydrogen may take more time, but Airbus is developing two hydrogen propulsion systems.

A number of electric-powered aircraft are close to commercial operations as airlines and manufacturers work to achieve zero-emissions goals. That is not the only option, though. European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is the largest to also take a hard look at hydrogen-fueled planes. The firm is developing two options: a hydrogen propulsion system using a combustion engine, as well as a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine.

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I know it’s wrong, but every time I see the words “aircraft” and “hydrogen” together the image of the Hindenburg flashes across my brain. Totally different, I get that, but the mind takes certain dramatic events and images and implants them so deeply they’re unavoidable, at least to me. “Twin Towers”. “Nat-see” (misspelled to avoid nanny problems) “Titanic”, Texas Schoolbook Depository”, that sort of thing. “Hindenburg” is one of those thanks to the dramatic footage and the anguished remarks of the reporter covering it.


As an engineer, hydrogen and aircraft together do not remind me of the Hindenberg. Hindenberg was just lousy engineering just like other engineering failures in history. Humans and engineers learn by trial and error.

What do the Twin Towers, Titanic or Texas Schoolbook Repository have to do with hydrogen or any other gas, liquid or solid?

In the future we will see hydrogen turbine generators producing electricity, hydrogen fuel cells generating electricity, trucks, trains and ships powered by hydrogen, process heating with hydrogen, iron reduction with hydrogen to make steel, and many more uses.

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Do you think of an electric chair every time you see an electrical outlet near a chair?