Five stakeholders in Hamburg will start a two-year trial to design and test maintenance and ground processes for handling hydrogen technology at airports, they have announced on July 7. The test includes a decommissioned ex-Lufthansa Airbus A320ceo that will be converted into a stationary laboratory. Hamburg to test hydrogen ground infrastructure.
Hydrogen is a trending topic in aviation, as can be seen from the numerous reports we have published in recent weeks. The announcement by Airbus last September to commit to a hydrogen-based airliner from the mid-2030s seems to have got the ball rolling.
While designing and developing a hydrogen airliner is one thing, getting the infrastructure at airports ready is as important. With a volume four times higher than traditional fuels and the requirement to keep liquid hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures of -253 Celsius, there are a lot of challenges to overcome.
The initiative in Hamburg is one of the first and most significant to find out what is needed to make the hydrogen infrastructure work. That’s why the City of Hamburg, Lufthansa Technik, Hamburg Airport, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the Center for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) have pooled together. Until the end of this year, they will first identify the most urgent issues that need further scientific examination and practical testing. Tests will commence in early 2022.
Decommissioned A320 will become a field laboratory
Lufthansa Technik will equip an A320 with liquid hydrogen (LH2) infrastructure so that it can serve as a fully functional field laboratory. DLR will use its extensive knowledge of hydrogen to create a virtual environment. “The new development platform is to provide inspiration for the design process of the next generation of aircraft by means of parameterized and highly accurate virtual models”, a press release says.
ZAL will contribute with its know-how on fuel cell technology and digital process mapping, while Hamburg Airport will participate at an operator level to develop requirements for ground handling of LH2 aircraft. The City of Hamburg is contributing financially as it targets to become a major hydrogen metropolis in the world.
On testing the hydrogen ground infrastructure, Lufthansa Technik CEO Johannes Bussmann says: “With this project, we want to tackle this enormous technological challenge at an early stage – for the entire MRO industry as well as for us. In this way, we are actively securing the future, because we are building up know-how today for the maintenance and ground processes of the day after tomorrow.”
DLR Deputy Board Member Markus Fischer says: “In the project, we are using this data and experience to develop digital models for ground processes. These digital process twins can then be used directly in the design of future-oriented and yet practicable aircraft configurations.”