Photo courtesy Aerospace Technology Institute

A Sustainable Liquid Hydrogen Jet Project Aims For 11-Hour Commercial Flights by 2030

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Mar 18, 2024

A UK-based effort from the Aerospace Technology Institute, dubbed Fly Zero, aims to bring long-haul-worthy flights powered by liquid hydrogen to market by 2030, according to recent reports. The effort claims that a plane powered by liquid hydrogen would be able to fly from London to San Francisco in about 11 hours. If this effort proves doable and scalable it could pave the way for commercial aviation to become far more sustainable, while also lowering emissions for air-based shipping.

“The aerospace sector is at a pivotal moment,” said ATI CEO Gary Elliott in the project’s guidebook. “Public concern about the environment has continued to increase in response to growing evidence about the impact of humankind’s activities and the need to take more urgent action to mitigate climate change.”

Scaling liquid hydrogen for commercial flights won’t be easy. The process is expensive and time-consuming, and while the end result burns far cleaner than traditional jet fuel, liquid hydrogen is often made of natural gas. According to the US Department of Energy, 30 percent of thWhile still a vast improvement, this would not be a “zero-carbon” effort and airlines and/or the industry at large would still need to invest in offsets and other action points to achieve carbon neutrality.

The UK government is backing the effort with about $19 million in federal investments aiming to make hydrogen-powered, transatlantic flights is “feasible” by 2030. The effort is part of the ATI’s efforts to decarbonize flying by 2050. Aviation is responsible for 2.5 to 4 percent of total carbon emissions, and is proving to be among the most difficult industries to decarbonize.

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