Hamburg makes aviation fit for hydrogen

The graphic depicts examples of potential fields of application for liquid hydrogen in and on future aircraft (blue arrows) as well as at the airport (ground vehicles) and its periphery (refueling systems) ©Hamburg Marketing

The aerospace industry in Hamburg is preparing for flying with hydrogen. Therefore, the starting signal has now sounded for the set-up of a new development platform. Over the next two years and with funds provided by the city of Hamburg, Lufthansa Technik, together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Center for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL), and Hamburg Airport will design and test extensive maintenance and ground processes involving handling hydrogen technology. For this purpose, an aircraft of the Airbus A320 family will be converted into a stationary laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg.

Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is increasingly being more concretely envisaged in the development departments of large aircraft manufacturers as a sustainably producible fuel for future generations of commercial aircraft. In order to investigate the effects of the use of LH2 on maintenance and ground processes at an early stage, Lufthansa Technik, DLR, ZAL, and Hamburg Airport are now pooling their extensive practical and scientific expertise. The aim is to jointly develop a pioneering demonstrator, and to operate it from 2022.

As the world’s third-largest aviation location, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is funding the research project with the largest single item in its special program to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry. In the first phase of the project, by the end of 2021 the partners aim to identify the most urgent fields of development for closer scientific examination and, on this basis, to elaborate the concept for subsequent practical testing. The practical implementation of the concept will start at the beginning of 2022.

In parallel, a virtual environment is being created at DLR that will be used to achieve digital and highly accurate mapping of the defined development fields. The new development platform will provide inspiration for the design process of the next generation of aircraft by means of parameterized and highly accurate virtual models.

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