Spanish aviation engine maker ITP Aero is heading a national consortium to test and produce the first domestic hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft engine.
The Spanish Ministry of Science agency’s Aeronautical Technology Plan overseen by CDTI includes the €12 million Cryogenics, Fuel Cells, and Hydrogen Combustion in Air Transport project, which is co-funded by European Union Next Gen strategic investment funds.
Destinus, Ajusa, and Aerotecnic form the collaboration. ITP said a network of Spanish technical institutions and universities, including the National Hydrogen Center and National Institute for Aerospace Technology, will support the partnership (INTA).
INTA’s Torrejón de Ardoz site in Madrid is developing a sophisticated open-air test bench. The test site, one of two worldwide, is being designed and will be built in 2024. 2025 will see site tests with a hydrogen-burning engine. ITP will soon choose the program’s engine.
The project will develop INTA’s test site and four research areas. They include fuel cell propulsion, hydrogen combustion research, and conditioning liquid hydrogen for gas turbine application. A full-scale demonstrator with power electronics, electric motor, and propeller or compressor propulsion will be included.
The fourth element, related to the test bench activity, involves converting an engine to run on natural gas and hydrogen. ITP says it will prepare for hydrogen-only operation.
Destinus, a Swiss startup, helps create the INTA test site. The Russian-founded company is developing a new generation of zero-carbon supersonic transport aircraft driven by air-breathing engines fueled by “green” hydrogen.
As a result of the Spanish research programme, the business is testing a gas turbine with a gaseous hydrogen post-combustor (an augmentor or afterburner system) “and simultaneously working with engine manufacturers to fast speed the technological development plan.” A second CDTI research award may fund it.