Airbus has partnered with South Africa’s National Aerospace Centre to finance a three-year research project on applying hydrogen fuel cell technology to airplanes.
The project, which aims to eventually eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and lessen noise and costs in commercial airline operations, was launched at the Hydrogen South Africa Systems Competence Center at the University of Western Cape, Airbus said Tuesday.
Dale King, Airbus senior manager for emerging technologies and concepts, stressed the importance of the project for the company’s business in the region.
“It underlines our commitment to South Africa, which is a significant market, hosts some of our most important suppliers and is a vital knowledge partner for Airbus,” King stated.
NAC Director Philip Haupt also acknowledged the value of the research on hydrogen fuel cell technology to aerospace and other industries.
“South Africa will be able to place its advanced manufacturing sector in a prime position to take advantage of the inevitable opportunities that will emerge,” Haupt added.
Through the research, Airbus said the company, NAC and HySA intend to develop jet engines powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of the conventional fossil fuel, innovation it hopes to translate into more environment-friendly aircraft, less maintenance work and lower operating cost.