Large aircraft manufacturer EADS Airbus has decided to research and develop two methods of using hydrogen aboard an airplane. The first method would be to use hydrogen as an additive to kerosene. The hydrogen would be injected into the engine to help it burn more cleanly and enhance performance.
The second method would be to reform some of the plane’s kerosene into hydrogen and run it through a fuel cell to power the aircraft’s onboard auxiliary power unit (APU). According to EADS CTO, Jean Botti, the fuel cell system is a “strong contender” for the next generation A320 narrow body airplane.
Botti isn’t saying much about the hydrogen injection process for the turbine engine, however, until patents and non-disclosure agreements are worked out. But, Botti may just be the right man for the job as he used to head up the technology department at Delphi, a company that created a hydrogen enrichment system for automobiles.
If the hydrogen injection process is the same for airplanes as it is for automobiles, it will help the vehicle burn its primary fuel more cleanly and extend the aircraft’s range. With the airline industry dependent upon high priced fossil fuels, expect more research and development in this area post haste.