Sponsor Message:
Aviation Technical / Operations Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Question About Hydrogen Sub-sonic Engines  
User currently offlinePlanelover From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 321 posts, RR: 0
Posted (13 years 8 months 4 hours ago) and read 2213 times:

Hey all,
I'm sure some of you have heard all the stuff about the new hydrogen cars that different car manufacturers are comming out with. GM says that they could probably have a hydrogen car selling in 8-10 years.
Anyways, are there any aircraft engine manufacturers that are looking into hyrogen as a possible fuel source for sub-sonic aircraft? Is this feasable? I'm not sure about all the mechanics, but from what I understand, on the GM cars, the hydrogen mixes with some other chemicals that ends up producing electricity that then turns electric motors that then turn the wheels. Is this right?
Let me know what you all think. Thanks.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineIndianguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (13 years 8 months 2 hours ago) and read 2165 times:

Can such engines fly subsonic. From what i hard, these engines only *start up* at speeds above 800kph and above or so and are most effective at speeds above 1.2M.

User currently offlineT prop From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 1032 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (13 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2155 times:

It is possible to run gas turbine engines on hydrogen, however for aircraft one of the problems is the fuel storage. Supposedly Daimler-Benz Aerospace and Tupolev are working on a DO 328 that will be powered by liquid hydrogen.

Find out more about this here.


T prop.

User currently offlinePaulc From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1490 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (13 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2147 times:

I think there was a TU154 with its No2 engine converted to hydrogen fuel. No sure how successful it was or if it still exists

English First, British Second, european Never!
User currently offlineLZ-TLT From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2136 times:

indeed, there was an experimental Tu-154 around 1988 which got re-engineered with a hydrogen engine

User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6848 posts, RR: 54
Reply 5, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2102 times:

Talking about hydrogen powered airliners and hydrogen powered cars are two very different things.

It is a minor job to convert a turbofan engine to hydrogen fuel. The problem is the on board fuel tanks.
Hydrogen boils at very close to the absolute zero temperature - roughly 30 deg Kelvin (minus 240 deg C) at sea level pressure. There is no way a pressurized tank can keep liquid hydrogen at ordinary ambient temperatures.

When using hydrogen as rocket fuel, then the temperature is kept at that low boiling point by constantly boiling off (and topping up) hydrogen on the launch pad. For obvious safety reasons that would be unacceptable at an airport. Besides that the extreme cold would create a tremendous heat isolation problem in order not to build up huge amounts of ice on the plane even on a hot summer day.

In gaseous state the hydrogen has to be compressed to extreme pressure if any considerable quantity has to be carried. Tanks will then be extremely heavy - and dangerous. Imagine that such a plane crashes near populated areas (e.g and airport) - it would be like a minor nuclear bomb.

Another huge and very expensive problem would be safe storage of large quantities of hydrogen at the airports.

I don't believe in hydrogen powered airliners. But the engines would be no problem.

Now about cars:
The future of hydrogen powered cars would require a completely different power system. First you will have a so called "fuel cell" - some device which converts hydrogen/oxygen combination directly into electric energy. Fuel cells are used today on the Space Shuttle for electric power generation.

The fuel cell then constantly charges a quite small battery in the car. The rest is an ordinary electric car. When accellerating, then you use power from the battery. When you stop for red light the battery is slowly recharged again.

The fuel cell is a much more efficient power conversion than any combustion engine, and electric motors nowadays can get close to 90% efficiency. Therefore overall fuel economy will be very favourable.

That way a small car can in fact do a lot of town traffic on what hydrogen corresponds to half a gallon of ordinary petrol or diesel fuel, and polution will be very small - exhaust would be almost clean water wapor.

Even this "half gallon fuel" converted into compressed hydrogen will require a huge and heavy tank and some very special filling facilities.

But if you forget about fast highway driving and several hundred miles range, and think about a small town car only, then it may be feasible once the fuel cell gets further developed and production costs come down to a tiny fraction of today.

Regards, Preben Norholm

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlineFunny From Greece, joined May 2001, 333 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 2077 times:

There are no unsurmountable barriers to Hydrogen fuel. There are only one or two things which need to be changed. One, is the ground facilities need to be a lot more technologically advanced for the new kind of refuelling. Hydrogen is likely to be used in aircraft as Slush or Ice-watery. Two, the wing needs to be bigger inside as you need a bigger volume of hydrogen for fuel. Three, the fuselage itself needs to be bigger to accomodate hydrogen proccessing devices.
There are, however, alot more advantages. 1 i does not pollute. Three, it makes angines much quieter, making flight much smoother. Four, it decreases the reliance on oil. Five, its A LOT cheaper. Six, I CANT THINK OF ANY MORE.



User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 2072 times:

The Tu-155 used LNG (liqiud natural gas) and was a version of the Tu-154. Problem is that LNG takes a lot
of space, so why did the Russians want one? Well, they
have to fly in fuel to remote areas with loads of LNG,
so using LNG would cut the amount of cargo. Pure economics....

User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21592 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2061 times:

Another thing to think of is that there is no natural supply of elemental hydrogen. Hydrogen is more or less just used as a form of "battery":

You need huge amounts of (usually electrical) energy for generating it (by separating it from oxygen in water) and it is basically just that energy (or rather just a part of it) that you can recover in combustion or in a fuel cell.

So in order to use hydrogen for cars or planes, you need to find economical and ecologically sound ways to generate hydrogen in the first place! And that would probably mean using nuclear energy.

Not a really pleasant thought for most people.

All the other problems mentioned are just the icing on the cake...

User currently offlinePlanelover From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 321 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2032 times:

Ok. I'm back you all! When I was writing this post, I was thinking more along the lines of not using converted plane engines. Here's what I was thinking: If a plane had a fuel cell on it and uses electric motors to turn a large blade or prop, would this work? The hydrogen in the hydrogen cars reacts some how with the metal in the fuel cell and makes electricity. Then, instead of having engines, you would simply have electric motors, like I said above. Maybe this would be too slow and not provide enough thrust for larger commercial jets, but do you think it would work for smaller piston engine planes and turboprops? This is sorta like back a long time ago when cars and planes both had piston engines. I know for some of you this is probably a really crazy question, but I was just wondering about it.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy Thanks you all.

User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6848 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2029 times:

Dear Planelover, sorry, that system won't work on planes. The system would be way too heavy.

What they think of in cars is also quite heavy stuff, which will generate only some 5 or 10 horsepower continuously.

That would be OK in a small town car. The fuel cell would constantly feed electric power corresponding to 5-10 HP into a battery, very likely an ordinary, but large lead-acid battery. You would pull maybe up to 50 HP from that battery when starting at green light or climbing a steep hill, but the fuel cell would deliver its 5-10 HP to the battery also at "idle" at red light and when driving downhill. You might even use the electric motor as a brake delivering energy back to the battery.

Flying, however, requires constant high energy. A large and heavy wide body plane requires something comparable to 100,000 to 200,000 HP to get in the air and for initial climb. And much less for level cruise of course - 25,000 to 50,000 HP. Fuel cells with that sort of capacity would be way too heavy if we don't dream up a technology break-through which nobody can imagine today. It is not a question about making it 50 or 75% lighter. We are talking about an entirely different scale.

Also imagining four electric motors driving the fans on a B747 at 200,000 HP, they would be prohibitively heavy. Have a look at a 2,000 HP electric motor in a train locomotive. And multiply by 100.

But hydrogen is a perfect turbine fuel. Only the storage is a huge problem. And of course producing it.

Regards, Preben Norholm

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2028 times:

Another major problem with hydrogen is that it is extremely explosive.
With normal fuels used today will burn rather than explode when in liquid form.
Hydrogen will explode as soon as oxygen is added, the slightest leak anywhere in the system will create an explosion that can wipe away an airport terminal.
Not a happy thought if you have 2 dozen bombs like that sitting on the ground around a building containing thousands of passengers and staff and any employee not connecting a nozzle correctly can cause the whole thing to go up like in a nuclear blast.

I wish I were flying
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6848 posts, RR: 54
Reply 12, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2024 times:

You are right, Jwenting. A hundred percent right. Well, at least 99.9% right.

You make it look like just blending hydrogen and oxygen (atmospheric air) creates an instant blast. It does need to be ignited. But the tiniest spark from switch-on or switch-off of a kid's diskman will do the job. So it doesn't change anything.

I am rather comfident that in our lifetime I will still be selling millions of gallons of smelly and smoking Jet A to keep the world moving.

Regards, Preben Norholm

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlineRyu2 From Taiwan, joined Aug 2002, 504 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 2019 times:

How about methane (CH4)? Production is not a problem, as it is more or less extracted from natural gas.

It has many of the advantages of H2 over jet fuel (greater energy density, cleaner burning)

The density and boiling point is much greater than hydrogen, so it can be stored in a lesser space and under warmer conditions.

It is only in gaseous form, and in the right percentage with air, so it is much more safer than hydrogen. It is more difficult to leak because of greater molecular size and mass, and it is heavier than air.

User currently offlineTwr75 From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 111 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2013 times:


Burning Methane will still produce CO2.

Like a seagull on the MCG of life...
User currently offlineRyu2 From Taiwan, joined Aug 2002, 504 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2006 times:

Yes, methane will still produce CO2, but not any of the other harmful byproducts of kerosene, like NOx, sulfur compounds, etc.

User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6848 posts, RR: 54
Reply 16, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1999 times:

Ryu2: How about methane (CH4)? Production is not a problem, as it is more or less extracted from naturar gas.

Well, methane and natural gas is the same thing - except that natural gas most often is a mixture of methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6).

Agree, it would be easier to use than hydrogen.

But natural gas is in heavy demand all over the world. Propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10) on the other hand is hard to get rid of (butane hardly used for anything but spray cans and cigaret lighters) and it would be much easier to use than methane and ethane.

But all of them are ordinary CO2 producing fossile fuels. So why not just continue to use kerosene instead.

There is in each oil well a certain percentage of kerosene. If that would not be burned in airliners, what would we then use it for?

Hydrogen might be interesting since it can be extraxted from water and is CO2 neutral. Its exhaust - water vapor - would just fall back in the oceans as rain.

Methane, ethane, propane, buthane and kerosene are all expended fossile fuels which contribute to the CO2 buildup.

The carbon contents isn't equal. But when an oil well is producing oil and/or natural gas, then all components have to be burned somewhere. If we burn the natural gas in airliners and kerosene in electricity power plants, or visa versa, that's the same thing for the CO2 buildup. So why not just choose the easier to handle and safer fuel for airliners? That's how it's gonna be in our lifetime, I'm sure.

Regards, Preben Norholm

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6848 posts, RR: 54
Reply 17, posted (13 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1995 times:


1. Sulfur compound contents in kerosene is negligible. Even in diesel oil it is now down to 0.02% (much lower in kerosene). In all developed countries it is extracted at the refineries and sold for furtilizer production.

2. About NOx (nitrogen-oxides): It would be very hard to make a methane fueled turbine engine which doesn't emit more NOx than a kerosene fueled turbine. And the worst NOx producer would be the hydrogen fueled turbine.

But NOx is not the biggest of problems. It is short lived in the atmosphere. And in a turbine it is almost only produced at high power, not at startup on the ramp or during taxiing, but at take-off, away from people.

NOx is not a product from the fuel. It is a chemical reaction between the two major components of the atmospheric air, nitrogen and oxygen. NOx is produced when air is compressed to very high pressure and exposed to extreme heat at the same time. Methane and especially hydrogen will at the same pressure burn at considerably higher temperature than kerosene.

By far the biggest concern with NOx is diesel powered cars/busses/trucks in town traffic. Not airliners. The way to reduce NOx emission from diesel engines is to make the combustion as "gradual" as possible. The fuel pump shall not just deliver the whole thing when the piston is at top, but deliver it gradually in such a way that there is is rather constant pressure in the cylinder until the exhaust valve opens.

In a turbine engine, however, only the compressor rpm dictates the crompression ratio in the combustion chambres.

Regards, Preben Norholm

Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
User currently offlinePlanelover From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 321 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (13 years 7 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1962 times:

Hey all,
Thanks for you all's help. I just read an article in Aviation Week and it said that Boeing is working on using fuel cell technology instead of APUs. I'm assuming it uses the same principle as the car. It's suppose to do all the same things a regular APU does. I don't recal the article saying what it would use as a fuel source. Probably not hydrogen. Boeing is going to try and have the first aircraft with this technology flying by 2003. Anyways, that's the way I understood it. If anybody can elaborate more on this please do. Thanks.

Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic Question About Hydrogen Sub-sonic Engines
No username? Sign up now!

Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Tech/Ops related posts only!
  • Not Tech/Ops related? Use the other forums
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)

Similar topics:More similar topics...
SFC Of Russian Engines : Question About D-18T posted Sun Aug 6 2006 13:40:46 by A342
Question About The Engines On The Bon Jovi 707 posted Tue Jan 24 2006 04:04:48 by Bohica
Question About Engines posted Sun Jan 1 2006 01:21:26 by BG777300ER
Question About CV990 Engines posted Thu Oct 26 2000 19:37:59 by Ilyushin96M
NonEngineer's Question About Fuel In Ceiling posted Thu Nov 2 2006 18:32:01 by SpeckSpot
Question About This Picture. posted Sun Oct 15 2006 21:38:07 by Dl757md
Question About Teflon posted Tue Oct 3 2006 05:58:43 by FlightShadow
Question About Delay Policies posted Sat Sep 16 2006 06:09:42 by Vatveng
Question About The Hemispherical Altitude Rule posted Thu Sep 14 2006 07:09:46 by Mir
Question About Thrust Reverser Types posted Tue Aug 15 2006 03:56:23 by YULspotter

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format