Context and challenges

COmposite COnformal LIquid H2 Tank

The global aviation industry has committed to reduce global net aviation carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2050, with the European Commission pursuing a more ambitious goal of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre. Alternative fuels, such as hydrogen (H2), are seen as playing a central role in a zero-emission future for aviation, but the level of penetration for H2 will depend heavily on scientific and technological breakthroughs to overcome the significant challenges posed by H2 powered aircraft. The safe and efficient storage of H2 on-board future aircraft will be one of the most complex aerospace engineering challenges that the industry has ever faced.

Improvements to existing state-of-the-art solutions includes a better utilization of the available space for fuel storage, adequate insulation techniques to minimize heat leak, continued safe operations, and a weight reduction through low-weight materials, such as thermoset or thermoplastic composites, all while addressing those materials’ inherent challenges (permeability, microcracking, thermal fatigue).

COCOLIH2T consortium, led by Collins Aerospace, is proposing a disruptive concept focused to reduce the impact of the tank’s weight and volume within an aircraft, while ensuring safe system functionality.

COCOLIH2T disruptive concept
Image Courtesy of NLR