|An Airbus flight. Photo: Airbus|
[Avionics Today 09-02-2014] Airbus has partnered with the National Aerospace Centre and Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) to fund research for the use of fuel cells by commercial airlines in an attempt to make commercial air transport more environmentally and economically sustainable.
The three-year project was launched at the HySA Systems Competence Center at its University of Western Cape research facility in Cape Town and aims to develop emissions-free hydrogen fuel cell technology as a substitute to Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), small gas turbine engines used for generating on-board electrical power and heat while the aircraft is on the ground. A fossil fuel-powered APU has been featured on nearly every airliner built since the 1950s, according to Airbus. Replacing them with hydrogen fuel cells would decrease aircraft noise and emissions.
“Although fuel cell technology for land vehicles has rapidly matured, the new research with Airbus and the National Aerospace Centre is aimed at gaining an understanding of how hydrogen fuel cells could perform over an aircraft’s service life while subjected to the harsh and rapidly changing climatic and environmental regimes that commercial jetliners operate in,” said HySA Systems Director, Bruno G. Pollet.