Airbus has decided to intensify its work on metallic hydrogen tanks by creating Zero Emissions Development Centers (ZEDC) at its facilities in Bremen (Germany) and Nantes (France).
ZEDC's aim is to realize cost competitive cryogenic tank production to support the successful future market launch of ZEROe and accelerate the development of hydrogen technologies. The design and integration of tank structures is crucial to the performance of a future hydrogen aircraft.
Technological studies; It will cover all product and industrial capabilities that have passed the core parts, assembly, system integration and cryogenic testing of the final liquid hydrogen (LH2) tank system. Both ZEDCs will be fully operational by 2025 to carry out the first test flight planned for 2 and to build LH2023 tanks.
Airbus chose the Bremen facility because of its diverse setup and decades of LH2 experience within Defense & Space and ArianeGroup. ZEDC in Bremen will initially focus on system setup as well as general cryogenic testing of tanks, while ZEDC will benefit from the synergies from aerospace activities and the wider hydrogen research ecosystem, such as the Center for Eco-Efficient Materials and Technologies (ECOMAT).
He chose the facility in Nantes for his extensive experience in metallic structural technologies related to the center wing box, including the safety critical center tank for commercial aircraft. ZEDC in Nantes will bring its experience in co-design activities in complex work packages of nacelles, radomes and mid-body, along with the ability to equally manage a wide range of metallic, composite technologies and integration. ZEDC will leverage the skills and talents of Nantes Technocentre, supported by an innovative local ecosystem like IRT Jules Verne.
In line with the Northern Germany regional and Pays de Loire objectives, Airbus will promote cross-industry cooperation to support the relevant ground-based infrastructure in the region, as well as the general transition to hydrogen propulsion technologies.
While the tank is a safety-critical component that requires special systems engineering, it is more difficult than aviation fuel as it must be stored at -2°C for LH250 to liquefy. Liquidity is required for increased density. The challenge of commercial aviation is to develop a component that can withstand the repeated thermal and pressure cycles that an aircraft application demands.
Short-term LH2 tank structures for commercial aircraft applications are expected to be metallic, but tanks made with carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites have high performance strengths.