Following a three month feasibility study into conversion options for hydrogen-powered aircraft, Australia-based Aviation H2 have selected the use of liquid ammonia to turbofan combustion as the best pathway forward. Based on the existing Dassault Falcon 50 aircraft, Aviation H2 aims to have the converted aircraft in the skies by mid-2023.
There are multiple reasons why liquid ammonia was selected. Chiefly its advantages include high gravimetric and volumetric hydrogen density that makes it lighter and easier to transport while providing a greater energy conversion rate…In fact, the stored weight of liquid ammonia energy is substantially lighter than gaseous hydrogen and can be kept at a much lower tank pressure.
When liquid ammonia is used in the combustion chamber, a turbofan can produce the same amount of thrust as traditional fuel sources.Aviation H2 Director Dr Helmut Mayer quoted in Liquid Ammonia Is the Carbon-free Fuel of Choice for Aviation H2, 28 Apr 2022
Basing the design on an existing aircraft – and one extremely common in Australia – means potential customers can retrofit existing fleets, instead of purchasing new aircraft. Commercialisation of the Falcon 50 conversion is targeted by the end of 2023, following successful test flights.
Building a hydrogen-powered aircraft
We’ll let Aviation H2 explain the conversion process:
NASA, Boeing & Reaction Engines
Aviation H2 joins a series of players exploring the possibility of ammonia-fueled flight. In February we reported that NASA and Boeing would be involved in a university-led research program into ammonia-fed jet engines. And at COP26 last November, UK-based group Reaction Engines launched a new joint-venture to develop modular, lightweight ammonia crackers that could be incorporated into aircraft (amongst other hard-to-decarbonise sectors).