Airbus has made significant progress in the field of superconductivity for hydrogen-powered aircraft. On Thursday, Airbus UpNext, a subsidiary of Airbus, announced the launch of a new technological demonstrator named Cryoprop. This demonstrator aims to accelerate the development of superconducting technologies for electric propulsion systems in future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Airbus Subsidiary UpNext Launches Cryoprop, A Superconductivity based Tech Demonstrator for Future Hydrogen powered Aircrafts
Launch of a new technological demonstrator to accelerate the maturation of superconducting technologies for use in electric propulsion systems of a future hydrogen-powered aircraft. | ©Airbus SAS 2024

The Cryoprop demonstrator will integrate a two megawatt-class superconducting electric propulsion system. This system will be cooled by liquid hydrogen through a helium recirculation loop. The development is a collaborative effort by Airbus teams in Toulouse, France, and Ottobrunn, Germany.

This initiative is part of Airbus' ambition to introduce the world's first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035. The company has been exploring various configurations and technologies, including hydrogen combustion and hydrogen fuel cells, to achieve this goal.

The successful maturation of these superconducting technologies could lead to significant performance improvements in propulsion systems, resulting in considerable weight and fuel savings. It also represents Airbus' commitment to innovation and its efforts to foster a new ecosystem that will support the introduction of new products in areas such as superconducting cables, motors, cryogenic power electronics, and cooling systems.

Michael Augello, CEO Airbus UpNext, "Our previous demonstrators have shown that superconducting technologies would be a key enabler for the high-power electrification of future hydrogen-powered aircraft. I truly believe that the new demonstrator will lead to performance improvements of the propulsion system, translating into significant weight and fuel saving potential. "

Airbus has been developing superconducting technologies for high-power electric propulsion for several years, culminating in the power-on of an integrated 500 kW cryogenic propulsion system last year.

Electronics company IXYS UK Westcode has been collaborating with Airbus UpNext on the development of a superconducting powertrain for hydrogen-fueled aircraft.

The research and development in this area are part of a broader effort to create more efficient and sustainable aviation technologies. These collaborations are crucial as they combine expertise from different sectors to push the boundaries of what's possible in electric propulsion and superconductivity.

As the industry moves towards a greener future, we can expect more companies to invest in and develop technologies that align with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and enhancing the efficiency of aircraft propulsion systems. Airbus' initiative is likely to inspire further innovation and partnerships in this exciting field of aerospace technology.

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