Is hydrogen the way to green aviation?

Poor old aviation! it’s had a bit of a kicking from all those groups who want to save the planet, and rightly so. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature[1] the number of passengers globally is expected to go from 2.4 billion (2010) to 8.3 billion by 2030. That’s an enormous rise in CO2, plus all the other pollutants caused by jet aircraft, such as nitrates, particulates and of course all that noise! Do you really need to make that business trip to Frankfurt in the age of zoom and what’s app? Or a boozy week in Benidorm? We understand why people ask these questions. But we fear that cutting back on mass travel runs a severe danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

We at LSS have sometimes been accused of putting the cart before the horse. It has even been alleged that we have been guilty of crossing bridges before we come to them. But we would never, under any circumstances run the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Especially on questions of aviation. For it is our settled belief that there is nothing so conducive to breaking down the barriers between peoples as mass cheap travel. Take it away, and the masses will sink into isolated, mutually hostile groups, except now they have nuclear weapons.

Alternatives are needed. We have already noted the possibilities offered by airships (LSS 26 5 21), and we also offer a quick guide here to solar powered flight [2]. Now it’s just possible that a third way exists: hydrogen fuel. Which, as every schoolchild knows, burns clean and green to leave nothing more than water. Jasper Jolly has a piece in the Guardian which describes the efforts of Rolls Royce to power aeroengines with hydrogen fuel. [3] The answer? Well, at the moment it only seems to work for turbo prop engines (the type you get on short haul domestic routes) Yet a start has been made, and by one of the best engineering companies in the world. Maybe we can still keep that baby intact, even as all the nasty dirty bathwater is thrown out for good. [4]

Declaration of interest: Rolls Royce once gave us a magnificent pair of cufflinks and an attaché folder, both of which we still treasure to this day

[1]https://www.worldwildlife.org/initiatives/cutting-aviation-pollution

[2] ttps://www.oxfordsaudia.com/en/blog/solar-powered-airplanes-the-history-and-future-of-solar-flights/

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/nov/28/rolls-royce-easyjet-test-aero-engine-hydrogen

[4] https://www.rolls-royce.com/innovation/net-zero/decarbonising-complex-critical-systems/hydrogen.aspx

#aviation #hydrogen #short haul #rolls royce #global warming #climate change

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