Airbus Establishes Zero-Emission Development Centres in Bremen, Germany and Nantes, France
Airbus will concentrate their development for metallic hydrogen tanks in a complementary setup by establishing Zero-Emission Development Centres (ZEDC) at its sites in Bremen and Nantes. The goal is to achieve cost-competitive cryogenic tank manufacturing for ZEROe aircraft.
On Monday (June 14, 2021), Airbus announced the establishment of complementary Zero-Emission Development Centres (ZEDC) in Bremen, Germany and Nantes, France. The goal of ZEDC is to achieve cost-competitive cryogenic tank manufacturing in support of the future market launch of ZEROe aircraft and the development of hydrogen-propulsion technologies. The developments at the ZEDC sites will cover the full product and industrial capabilities from elementary parts, assembly, systems integration, and the cryogenic testing of the final liquid hydrogen (LH2) tank system. Both centres will be fully operational by 2023 to build LH2 tanks with a first test flight scheduled for 2025.
Airbus selected Bremen because of its diverse setup and decades of LH2 experience within the Defence and Space and Ariane Group. ZEDC Bremen will initially focus on system installation and cryogenic tank testing, while benefitting from the wider hydrogen research ecosystem, including the Centre for Eco-Efficient Materials and Technologies (ECOMAT) and further aerospace synergies. Nantes was selected due to their extensive knowledge in metallic structural technologies related to the center wing box, including the safety-critical center fuel tank for commercial aircraft. ZEDC Nantes will also bring experience in composite technologies as well as co-design activities on nacelle inlets, radomes and center fuselage complex work packages. The Nantes centre will also benefit from the skills and capabilities of the Nantes Technocentre, supported by an innovative local ecosystem, including IRT Jules Verne.
Airbus will foster cross-industry collaboration to support the overall transition to hydrogen-propulsion technologies. The tank is a safety-critical component, as LH2 presents more challenges than kerosene, as it needs to be stored at -250 degrees Celsius to liquefy. The challenge for commercial aviation is to develop a component which can withstand repeated thermal and pressure cycling. Airbus expects that the near-term development of LH2 tank structures for commercial aircraft will be metallic, but recognizes the potential performance opportunities associated with carbon-fiber reinforced polymer composites.