Hydrogen Powered Planes

Hydrogen Powered Planes

Europe has proven it’s impossible to eliminate the use of fossil fuels without hydrogen.

While Hydrogen is an excellent energy carrier, it’s not readily available and must be extracted from some other compound. Green hydrogen is produced using electricity generated by wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Germany, the country that has done more to cut CO2 emissions than any other, and spent billions of dollars trying to do so, has only cut its emissions by 31% since 1990. (The year 1990 is the base year commonly used for determining CO2 reductions.)

Transport is a sector that has seen few reductions, which is why Germany is now mandating electric vehicles and pursuing the use of hydrogen for airplanes. Europe has also published a manifesto for transitioning to hydrogen. See, Appendix B, The Looming Energy Crisis, Are Blackouts inevitable.

Airbus is already designing hydrogen powered concept planes.

Airbus ZEROe Turbofan Concept from Airbus website

The liquid hydrogen would be stored in the sealed compartment behind the passenger section.

But storing hydrogen as a liquid requires cold temperatures.

Here is what the Energy.Gov website, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, says:

“Gaseous hydrogen is liquefied by cooling it to below −253°C (−423°F). Once hydrogen is liquefied it can be stored at the liquefaction plant in large insulated tanks. It takes energy to liquefy hydrogen—using today’s technology, liquefaction consumes more than 30% of the energy content of the hydrogen and is expensive.”

How these obstacles will be overcome is not known, but there will be added costs.

Green hydrogen, at a minimum, will cost around $6/kg, or $2.73 per pound.

Prior to the pandemic, jet fuel cost around $0.65 per kg, or around 30 cents per pound. (During the pandemic it cost much less.) Hydrogen is therefore at least 9 times the cost of jet fuel.

While hydrogen produces three times the energy of jet fuel, the end result is that the cost of fuel to fly hydrogen powered planes could be 3 times the cost of using jet fuel. Probably even more than 3 times the cost, when hydrogen storage costs and liquefaction losses are considered.

The cost of jet fuel already represents one of the largest costs for airlines.

There is also the infrastructure required at airports wherever hydrogen powered planes are flown. Cryogenic storage and refueling vehicles will cost billions. Bringing liquid hydrogen to airports or liquefying hydrogen at the airport from hydrogen pipelines will also add to costs. 

Existing pipelines can’t be used for transporting pure hydrogen.

Special pipelines will have to be built since hydrogen can cause embrittlement with the potential for leaks in traditional pipelines, and special seals will be needed to prevent the small hydrogen molecule from leaking at compressors, etc.

Here we have another instance where proponents of drastic action to thwart climate change are using unrealistic concepts to achieve their goals.

Even if hydrogen can be used to power airplanes, the cost of air travel will sky-rocket so that many ordinary people won’t be able to afford to fly.

This is another economy killing proposal that only harms people for no legitimate reason.

Proponents of climate action are forcing their ideas on ordinary people around the world.

. . .

You can read the introduction and look at the Table of Contents here:

Looming Energy Crisis, Are Blackouts Inevitable?

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5 Replies to “Hydrogen Powered Planes”

  1. Actually using 1990 to show how much Germany has cut emissions is misleading. Germany cut emissions greatly in the early 1990s by closing extremely inefficient plants in the former East Germany. That, not all the billions of euros spent on windmills and solar systems, led to the biggest drop in German emissions–a step that cannot be repeated.

    • Thanks. Yes, you are correct.
      In other articles, I have pointed out that one-third of the 31% reduction occurred with German Reunification with the closure of East Germany’s inefficient industries.
      Germany has essentially only reduced its CO2 emissions by around 20% as a result of the billions of dollars committed to the energy transition.

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