Airbus’ has been awarded with the GreenTec Award 2013 for its research activities to integrate fuel cell technology into commercial aircraft. The “Multifunctional Fuel Cell Integration” analyses the replacement of the auxiliary power unit (APU) and the ram air turbine (RAT) with a fuel cell.
Günter Butschek, Airbus Chief Operating Officer said: “Airbus has always been a driver in making aviation more environmentally friendly and invests around €2bn per year in research and development to improve our aircraft’s performance. We are on track to meet the aviation industry’s short-term environmental targets that include sustainable and carbon neutral growth from 2020. Fuel cells are one of the most promising step change technologies to make our aircraft even more efficient, cleaner and quieter. The recognition of our fuel cell project at the GreenTec Awards underlines the relevance of our activities. I thank our partners and congratulate the whole team on this great achievement.”
Airbus’ fuel cell research activities focus on ‘multifunctional fuel cell’ systems which not only supply the aircraft with electric power, but also make efficient use of the by-products in various aircraft systems. The electrical energy can be used both for conventional aircraft systems but also for main engine starting and emission-free autonomous ground operations at airports. In parallel, the inert nitrogen gas replaces common halon-based fire suppression systems for the cargo hold and may be used for inerting the fuel tanks. Finally, the water can be used for the water supply system of the aircraft. Another benefit is the significant reduction in overall aircraft weight – hence reducing fuel burn and emissions in flight – as well as reducing noise and emissions during ground operations at airports.
The GreenTec Awards are awarded each year for projects on eco-management and environmentally friendly technologies. The jury is composed of experts from various areas like engineering, economy and media and is supported by representatives from the economy, science, politics and media.