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Airbus opens new composite-related ZEROe Development Center in Stade for hydrogen storage technologies

Airbus has opened a ZEROe Development Center (ZEDC) for hydrogen technologies at its Stade site in Germany. The center will accelerate the development of composite hydrogen-system technologies for storing and distributing cryogenic liquid hydrogen.

Airbus has long been a pioneer in composite technologies in Germany, both in materials and manufacturing processes.

A priority for the Stade ZEDC is the development of cost-competitive lightweight Hydrogen systems (e.g. cryogenic Hydrogen tank) in composites. The technology development will cover the product and industrial capabilities from elementary parts, assembly and the manufacturing-related testing of the liquid hydrogen (LH2) composite tanks. The tank development is coordinated with the other Airbus national entities.

Establishing a composite related ZEDC in Germany strengthens our Research & Technology footprint in the country and ensures the involvement, from the start, of leading experts to support our decarbonisation ambition. Furthermore, the ZEDC will benefit from the wider composite research and development ecosystem such as the Airbus subsidiary Composite Technology Center (CTC GmbH), the CFK NORD in Stade as well as from further synergies from space and maritime activities.

—Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer

The ZEDC in Stade is supported by public fundings (e.g. LuFo, Lower Saxony funding and others) and will also be linked to the planned Innovation and Technology Center Hydrogen (ITZ) in Northern Germany to realize the potential of hydrogen technology and contribute to the decarbonization of the aviation industry.

The ZEDC Stade is part of a network of development centers for technologies to decarbonize the aerospace industry. It will complement the other activities from Airbus sites in Bremen (Germany), Nantes (France), Madrid (Spain) and Filton (UK) to get a hydrogen-powered aircraft in the sky by 2035.



Some folk on here who know infinitely more than I are deeply sceptical about hydrogen in aircraft.
Some big boys in the industry though are putting their money where their mouths are, to try to make it work.

There appear to be several important issues:

1/ Making the hydrogen and distributing it, including loading it on to the plane.

2/Storage, as addressed here.

3/ Moving the hydrogen around the plane to the fuel cell

4/ The Fuel cell itself

5/ More contrails compared to kerosene.

The worth of my opinion is on a par with my expertise!

However, it seems that Airbus, Rolls Royce and some start ups are serious.

Boeing has other issues to deal with

Roger Pham

Composite carbon fiber material with resin is not compatible with cryogenic temperatures due to difference in expansion rate and brittleness of the resin at very low temperatures. What have been proven is aluminum and stainless steel as cryogenic storage containers. Of course, aircraft is also made out of aluminum so it is convenient for an aft-mounted tank to also be structural part to hold the tail empennage of the aircraft.

H2 can be made near the solar and wind farms and transported via pipelines to all end users, including airport facilities whereby the green H2 can be liquefied locally, stored locally, to be loaded into aircraft. No problem at all.
Piping will be used to move the LH2 to the engines.

Engines will be used instead of Fuel Cells because there is no real advantage of FC over combustion engines which can significantly gain efficiency from the use of LH2 to cool the intake air, thereby reducing compression work.

There will no more contrail than existing petroleum-fueled engines, due to the vastly increase in payload-to fuel ratio enabled by LH2. The amount of water vapor released from LH2 combustion aircraft will be comparable to existing aircraft.


COPV (Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessel) is what they will likely do with appropriate cyro compatible resins selected. Current state of the art is capable, but advances are always beneficial.


Roger said:

' Composite carbon fiber material with resin is not compatible with cryogenic temperatures'

Yet if I have understood what they are saying correctly, that is exactly what are being built.


A word from NASA about the carbon-fiber Blended Hybrid Laminate (BHL) cryotank developed by Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories (GTL) Inc. of Tullahoma, Tennessee.

“Current cryotanks that fit on a plane are so heavy they can only carry 5% to 6% hydrogen by mass, supporting only short flights, according to GTL. The BHL cryotank, including insulation, can hold 60% to 70% hydrogen by mass.

While I believe that composite structures do work on commercial aircraft. This was demonstrated in the brilliant design of the Airbus A350-900 which performed with outstanding success during the recent crash at Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan (of course with great help from the flight crew).
However, I am very hesitant to want this tank on my next long airline flight. Liquid Hydrogen is not a new thing either, it worked in 1966 on a Soviet TU-155 Aircraft.
Not practical, then or now.
BTW, worked at Spirit Aerospace in 2010 when they were developing the composite structure for the Airbus A350. They also build the composite structures for the Boeing 787.



If I understand your reservations correctly, and not only am I entirely untrained in the field but also as my age increases my memory decreases, so I may have forgotten what you have patiently explained previously, your reservations are mainly to do with moving the hydrogen around onto and in the aircraft?

As a complete amateur, my own judgement is necessarily somewhat based on arguments of authority, ie I tend to look for what the big boys are doing.

After that comes whether they are putting their money where their mouths are, and then I look for obvious diversion tactics, such as the remarkable enthusiasm by the oil and gas industries for CO sequestration, sometime in the indefinite future.

So I pay some but limited attention to players like Zero Avia, but the likes of Airbus and Rolls Royce being interested attracts me more. I do like the HT PEMs that Zero Avia is to use, although of course they are way, way short of fully proven.

Boeing are several bolts short of credibility at the moment in what ever their objectives are, other than perhaps to keep flying.


Cryogenic fuels have a long history in Aerospace, in particular with manned Space flight and rockets. last year Airbus was part of the Artemis mission with Orion and the European Service Module (Artemis I used liquid hydrogen rocket engines).
This year, the Intuitive Machines Lunar Lander, Nova-C will use the PRESSURMAXX composite liner-less propulsion tanks for liquid methane and liquid oxygen tanks.

Main point - Composites can be used for cryogenic fuels. Can they used for Commercial Aircraft? Airbus is doing research, it’s step1.
You might be interested in this video:
Countdown to #ZEROe: Episode 1 - Tanks
Also, here:,produce%20and%20supply%20the%20hydrogen.


Thanks as always, Gryf.

After the first video I had a look at this follow up one on fuel cell variants of hydrogen aircraft:

And was immediately struck by the claim at around 1 minute in that contrails in the fuel cell version would be low or even virtually eliminated.

This was new to me, so I bunged into google advanced search:
' fuel cell planes eliminate contrails'

And got a number of interesting hits.

I don't want this post to be autokilled as spam, so I will split this post giving additional links in another post.

Here is a link discussing what Airbus are doing to reduce contrails in all hydrogen powered aircraft, not just fuel cell ones:

The bottom line is that they are redesigning the wings and fuselage.

They distinguish between all contrails and the persistent ones which are the ones which do the damage,

The optimum altitude to avoid contrails is very different for polar and lower latitude flight,

Their configuration looks at ranges of 2800km for the version they intend,

' Overall energy use and contrail persistence probability for the A320 and H320 are shown in Figure 14. The lighter weight of the hydrogen aircraft, as discussed in the previous section, increases the altitude required for a given lift coefficient by about 2 km, which enables operation with reduced contrail persistence. At this typical latitude, an H320 operating at a 13.5 km altitude leads to a very low ISSR frequency of about 1%, with about 15% higher energy use per passenger-km than the A320. Flying even higher would achieve a greater reduction in contrails, with negligible contrail persistence above altitudes of about 14 km in non-equatorial latitudes. Notably, the A320’s average ISSR frequency may also be reduced to about 3% by operating at 12.5 km, near its maximum altitude (assuming the A320 is not above 45% fuel capacity, as this would be above the maximum operating altitude of a fully loaded A320).'

So substantial reduction in harmful contrails can be achieved, albeit at some cost in fuel


And here is the bit on how fuel cells may ' virtually eliminate harmful persistent contrails':

' A fleet of aircraft equipped with FCs may produce condensation almost everywhere, from the lower troposphere up to the stratosphere. If the lifetime (and thus length) of the condensation trail is sufficiently long, it is justified to call them contrails. Mere condensation that is visible only for few seconds should not be called contrail. Below certain temperatures, which are not extremely low, contrail production from FCs appears unavoidable, even in otherwise very dry air, like in the stratosphere. In most cases, however, this should lead merely to strange views of the sky when many aircraft have a short trail of steam like a steam engine. These contrails should mostly be quite short and some of them even invisible to an observer at the ground. They should not have any noticeable impact on weather and climate.
Only in case of ice-supersaturation, where contrails are persistent, a contribution to aviation’s climate impact can be expected. However, contrails from fuel cells will probably have a lower number density of ice crystals than persistent contrails from kerosene engines. The ice crystals will then on average be larger and thus fall faster. This implies that persistent FC-contrails should have on average shorter lifetimes than contrails from kerosene gas turbines.
Regarding the fact that FCs produce no other emissions than air and water vapour, one can recommend the introduction of this technique for aviation from a climate perspective. Their contrails might turn out to be ubiquitous, but most of them are harmless, and the persistent ones are less climate effective than the contrails from the current fleet of kerosene driven aircraft. In any case, these predictions should be tested in numerical experiments and with research flights, and the climate impact of a fleet of aircraft equipped with fuel cells should be assessed using appropriate numerical tools.'

Most of this is above my head, in spite of my qualifications, a chemistry 'O' level obtained in 1966, which has limited the number of times NASA has asked for my help, but the provisional conclusion that contrails from fuel cells should have little impact seems clear enough.

Hope you find some of this interesting!


At the end of 2023 Airbus sucessfully tested their 1.2MW fuel cell stack:

Lots of hurdles to clear yet, of course, but so far everything has been on schedule etc with no nasty 'gotchas' appearing.


I have not been able to find specifications for weight to power ratios etc on the Airbus Aerostack fuel cell installation.
Gryf? Anyone?

It seems they hope to have qualified it for altitude, vibration etc by 2026 though, to put it in the new A380 where it is to be used initially.

I've no idea why they refer to the fuel cell stack as an 'iron pod' either, as I would not have imagined that it constains much iron!


I have not managed to track the performance specs of the fuel cell down, but I have come across more info on how Airbus intends to move forward:

' “The bottlenecks are no longer in the technology of the plane,” Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said on 12 September during an aerospace event in Washington DC. “We strongly believe that we will be ready by 2035 with a hydrogen plane. The technology will be ready.”

Airbus in 2020 revealed three hydrogen-powered aircraft concepts as part of its ZEROe programme, and said it aimed to bring one to market by 2035.'

That's a pretty strong claim about the technology,


' Executives stress that, optimism aside, Airbus has not committed to developing a hydrogen-powered passenger airliner, saying the decision depends on factors partly or largely outside the company’s control.

Those include unclear regulatory and certification standards, the need for hydrogen transportation and storage infrastructure, and the availability – at the “right price” – of green hydrogen produced using renewable electricity: “That’s going to be where the challenge lies,” Faury says.

Knittel says any initial hydrogen-powered aircraft would likely be on the “smaller” side, and that “long range” is among the toughest “challenges” associated with hydrogen propulsion.'

My betting is that IF hydrogen gets the go-ahead, it will be in a configuration where fuel cells power the APU, with hydrogen combustion which can manage more range etc as the propulsive unit


Here is a bit more on Airbus's projected use of hydrogen for an APU, which seems the best bet to me:

' Airbus subsidiary UpNext’s NPE demonstrator will use a fuel cell containing ten kilograms of gaseous hydrogen generated from renewable sources to produce electrical non-propulsive power. Within three years, the cell will be tested on board an Airbus A330 in standard operating conditions. The NPE project benefits from strong support of the Spanish government and its adoption will help reduce CO2, NOx and noise emissions. '

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