Airbus Launches 2 Hydrogen Innovation Sites In Spain

Airbus today announced that it is launching two creative entities in Spain. The company’s third Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) to advance hydrogen technologies will be placed in the country. Alongside this, UpNext, an innovation hub that focuses on future flying at high speeds, will have a branch in the nation.

Airbus is continuing its advancements in the hydrogen space. Photo: Airbus

Hydrogen priorities

Airbus has ambitious goals to operate in a net-zero ecosystem in Europe by 2050, and hydrogen will play a crucial role in this goal. Technology revolved around this element is set to revolutionize medium and long-haul travel in future decades.

The European manufacturer is firmly backing hydrogen, revealing three commercial aircraft concepts based on it last year. The trio of liquid hydrogen-fueled ZEROe aircraft will cover different market requirements. A turboprop will fly up to 100 passengers to a range of over 1,000 NM (1,850 km). Meanwhile, the turbofan and blended-wing body concepts are looking to hold up to 200 passengers to a range of over 2,000 NM (3,700 km).

There is already significant interest in the hydrogen space. The likes of Lufthansa and easyJet are in close communication with Airbus about the progress of the program.

ZEROe concept aircraft infographic
Airbus is looking to introduce the first ZEROe aircraft in 2035. Photo: Airbus

The right platforms

So, with these prospects, Airbus is having to put the work in to prepare for the revolution. In June this year, the company announced that it is constructing metallic tanks for liquid hydrogen. In practice, it launched ZEDCs in Nantes, France, and Bremen, Germany. 

With this initiative, the firm is looking to introduce cost-competitive cryogenic tank manufacturing to support hydrogen aviation. Notably, the Bremen site is close to the Airbus Defence and Space facilities. Therefore, the firm benefits from a plethora of expertise and resources to develop opportunities. As Airbus puts it, the outfit will “build demonstrators from demonstrators, and the more mature one will actually fly.”

Spain’s ZEDC will focus on carbon fiber tanks, non-propulsive energy, and processes for fuel cell cooling and fiber optics. The UpNext entity will concentrate on researching and demonstrating hydrogen-powered non-propulsive energies. It will also look at future tanking operations.

“Establishing Airbus UpNext and the ZEDC in Spain strengthens our Research & Technology footprint in the country and ensures the involvement, from the start, of some of the best experts to support our zero-emission ambition,” – Airbus Chief Technical Officer Sabine Klauke, via company statement.

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Plenty to consider

UpNext has been making significant progress in recent months. The Airbus subsidiary is overseeing the shape-shifting Xtra-Performance Wing demonstrator that was announced in September.

Airbus is also working alongside Air Liquide and VINCI Airports to utilize hydrogen at airports and scale up a European hydrogen network to meet expected demand.

At least 45 airports across 12 countries will see hydrogen installations. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Nonetheless, the company recognizes that hydrogen is not the only answer. Along with structural evolutions such as what we are seeing with the Xtra-Performance Wing, the company is putting in work to ramp up sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) usage and is building digital air traffic management solutions. 

Spain’s industry is on the same page when it comes to sustainability goals. Just last week, it was announced that Iberia commissioned a $13 Million solar plant at Madrid Airport. The plan is for the hub to reach a generation capacity of 10MW within three years to produce over 13 million kWh of energy. Overall, Airbus and Spain are covering all angles when it comes to bringing efficiency and sustainability to the future of aviation. 

What do you think of Airbus launching an UpNext entity in Spain? What do you make of the potential of hydrogen commercial aviation? Let us know what you think of the overall prospects in the comment section.

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