Austro Engine, a trusted supplier of Diamond aircraft, has partnered with the Vienna University of Technology and Bosch General Aviation Technology to develop a revolutionary “bivalent hydrogen engine.”
This research project aims to create an engine capable of running on both traditional kerosene/diesel fuels and pure hydrogen, offering greater flexibility for aircraft operators and reducing carbon emissions.
The envisioned engine concept, set to be completed by the end of 2024, proposes direct hydrogen injection and combustion via an ignition jet instead of spark plugs. This innovative system would allow aircraft to operate on hydrogen even in areas lacking hydrogen infrastructure, providing a solution for operators utilizing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) rather than conventional JetA fuel.
Austro Engine has already made significant progress in the project, achieving a remarkable 90% energy substitution rate at part load. This achievement translates to a 99% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions and substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. However, the use of hydrogen at full capacity still poses challenges that need to be addressed. Successful completion of the project will enable the identification of any weaknesses or reliability issues in a convertible hydrogen/kerosene engine, leading to the development of a certification-ready solution.
Felix Zahradnik, Chief Technology Officer at Austro Engine, expressed the company’s commitment to advancing next-generation propulsion systems for General Aviation. While acknowledging the challenges associated with hydrogen production, handling, and infrastructure, Austro Engine recognizes the potential of hydrogen as a future energy storage medium. In addition to prioritizing efficiency and low emissions, factors such as operating costs, safety, and global availability have influenced the company’s strategic approach to future propulsion concepts. Austro Engine sees a sustainable future not only with sustainable aviation fuels but also believes that direct hydrogen combustion could be a viable propulsion system for General Aviation.
Christian Grim, General Manager of Bosch General Aviation Technology GmbH, emphasized the importance of partnerships across industries to achieve sustainability in aviation. As the technology partner of Austro Engine and the Vienna University of Technology, Bosch is dedicated to integrating hydrogen into existing engine line-ups through public-funded projects. Grim believes that hydrogen will play a significant role in sustainable aviation solutions, whether in fuel cells or hydrogen engines. As the aviation industry faces the challenge of decarbonization, exploring alternative propulsion systems will become increasingly crucial.