Airbus recently won the Innovation Prize of German Aviation (IDL) for its fuel cell demonstrator “Hydrogen to Torque (H2T) Imponator” at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Berlin. The award was presented in the category Emission Reduction. H2T showed how a new hydrogen-powered fuel cell system might replace the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) in the tail of the aircraft in future. Airbus also presented a propulsion concept that combines an electric motor with fuel cells and liquid hydrogen as fuel.
Climate-neutral drive concept for the auxiliary turbine
A team of engineers at Airbus Systems Engineering worked on the Research & Technology (R&T) project at ZAL – Center of Applied Aeronautical Research in Hamburg. Based on its novel design, H2T uses the current from the fuel cell to drive an electric mini-engine and a running shaft, which in turn could supply energy for an air compressor in the air conditioning system or generator. The new system could replace the kerosene APU, supply compressed air for operating the air conditioning system in flight and save up to 3 per cent kerosene.
Commenting on the prize, Axel Flaig, Head of Airbus R&T, said: “We are delighted with the high-ranking award for our development team on such an important issue. The aviation industry must look towards the future like no other to anticipate trends on time and develop products sustainably. Airbus is working at full speed on intelligent solutions for sustainable mobility. Airbus has environmentally-friendly technology in hydrogen and fuel cells that can shape flying and aircraft of tomorrow.”
Innovation Award of German Aviation
The German Aviation Innovation Prize is presented in four categories including “Emission Reduction”. The winners accepted their awards at this year’s ILA on April 25. The category recognizes innovations that reduce emissions such as noise, CO2 and air pollutants. The three other categories are “Customer Journey”, “Industry 4.0” and “Cross Innovation”. Last year, the Airbus and Altran projects at the ZAL TechCenter Airbus won the “Industry 4.0” award for their partner research project “Printed Electrics”, while the ZAL-based start-up Jetlite won the “Customer Journey” award for its lighting concept.