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The German city is one of the three largest aviation clusters in the world and last year developed a clear vision of becoming a major hydrogen metropolis.
A digital twin development platform is being launched to test potential use of hydrogen technology in the aerospace industry.
Funded by the City of Hamburg, Lufthansa Technik will work with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Centre for Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) and Hamburg Airport over the next two years to design and test extensive maintenance and ground processes for hydrogen-powered aircraft.
To this end, an Airbus A320 passenger aircraft will be converted into a stationary laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg. The aim is to jointly develop a demonstrator, which will be operational from 2022.
Liquid hydrogen (LH2) is increasingly being concretely envisaged in the development departments of large aircraft manufacturers as a sustainably producible fuel for future generations of commercial aircraft, and the programme seeks to investigate the effects of the use of LH2 on maintenance and ground processes.
“Hamburg is not just one of the three largest aviation clusters in the world, last year the city also developed the clear vision of becoming a major hydrogen metropolis,” said Michael Westhagemann, senator for economics and innovation, City of Hamburg.
“I therefore see it as both a logical and gratifying step to combine these two core competences of Hamburg. The port, the energy sector, industry and the entire mobility sector are involved and are preparing for this groundbreaking technology.”
He continued: “With this project, we are now also making an essential contribution to the transformation of aviation into a climate-neutral mobility solution of the future. The clear goal is to build up a hydrogen economy in Hamburg that will occupy a leading position internationally.”
“With this project, we are now also making an essential contribution to the transformation of aviation into a climate-neutral mobility solution of the future. The clear goal is to build up a hydrogen economy in Hamburg that will occupy a leading position internationally”
In the first phase of the project, by the end of 2021 the partners aim to identify the most critical fields of development for scientific examination and, on this basis, to develop the concept for subsequent practical testing. The practical implementation of the concept will start at the beginning of 2022 and will involve modifying a decommissioned Airbus A320 aircraft.
The aircraft will be equipped with an LH2 infrastructure to be used as a fully functional field laboratory at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg. In parallel, a virtual environment is being created at DLR that will be used to achieve digital and highly accurate mapping of the defined development fields. The new development platform is to provide inspiration for the design process of the next generation of aircraft by means of parameterised and highly accurate virtual models, the partners report.
Against this backdrop, Lufthansa Technik will primarily contribute operational expertise in the maintenance and modification of commercial aircraft, and can also incorporate the customer perspective through its close contact with airlines around the world.
“We need to learn – promptly and in detail – the requirements on aircraft and maintenance of real-world operation with hydrogen on the ground”
DLR will bring its long-standing and cross-sector experience with hydrogen, and focus on the development of the virtual environment. ZAL will also participate with know-how in the field of fuel cell technology and digital process mapping. As an associated project partner, Hamburg Airport will provide experience from an operator’s perspective, for example in defining requirements for the ground handling process of future LH2-powered aircraft.
“The aircraft of the future are lighter, more efficient and fly with alternative propulsion concepts. Hydrogen will play an important role in this. We need to learn – promptly and in detail – the requirements on aircraft and maintenance of real-world operation with hydrogen on the ground,” said Dr Markus Fischer, deputy board member aeronautics, DLR.
“In the project, we are using this data and experience to develop digital models for ground processes. These digital process twins can then be used directly in the design of future-oriented and yet practicable aircraft configurations.”
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