Image: ZAL

The ZAL Centre for Applied Aeronautical Research has added a 20-meter-high, 100-m3 hydrogen storage tank to its infrastructure.

The tank, donated by Air Products, which will also supply the required gaseous hydrogen, instantly doubles the research center’s capacity. The new infrastructure was officially launched on Wednesday, August 4th, by Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics and Innovation.

The ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research provides comprehensive facilities for over 30 partners, including Airbus, DLR, Lufthansa Technik, and ZAL GmbH, to conduct research into the future air transport business. They all agree on one thing: hydrogen is critical for climate neutrality.

ZAL is a member of the Hamburg Aviation cluster and has been involved in hydrogen research and development since 2009. ZAL GmbH administers the Fuel Cell Lab, rents out fuel cell laboratories, and provides fuel cell technology consulting, development, and testing services.

The Fuel Cell Lab is a multi-sector research facility focused on aviation and other modes of transportation. Since 2015, a total of around 3.7 million euros has been invested in the laboratory infrastructure. The business Air Products’ new 20-meter-high hydrogen tank has increased the site’s test capacity by a factor of twenty. Around 400 kilograms of hydrogen are stored on-site in the 100 cubic meter storage tank. The hydrogen is delivered 30 kilometers distant from the Air Products plant in Stade.

Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics and Innovation: “Hydrogen is the future. And the inauguration of the new tank architecture at ZAL is one of the pillars we need in the transformation towards green flying. The new hydrogen storage tank shows that Hamburg as an aviation center is moving towards sustainability and zero emissions by investing in concrete projects and measures.”

Roland Gerhards, CEO ZAL GmbH: “Hydrogen as an energy carrier is the central key technology when it comes to making aviation more sustainable. The idea of utilizing regenerative hydrogen has been around for decades, but it is only the combination of today’s technologies and the public demand for greater sustainability that is enabling the transformation of air transport. I am proud that as a research topic hydrogen already has a long history at ZAL, and that we are driving the development of this important technology with our facilities and the new H2 tank at the ZAL TechCenter.”

Dr. André Walter, Chairman of the Board of Management of Airbus Commercial in Germany and head of the Hamburg site: “Hydrogen technology plays a key role for Airbus as is illustrated by our  ZEROe concept aircraft, for example. However, the future utilization of this forward-looking energy source in commercial aviation is a team effort and can only succeed if we work together. We are therefore very pleased that the Hamburg region is taking the lead here in close cooperation between the political, scientific, and economic spheres. ZAL and its research infrastructure are an indispensable platform for developing the necessary technologies. We look forward to expanding this cooperation.”

Dr. Björn Nagel, Founding Director DLR Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics: “The ZAL partnership network and the infrastructures provided offer an ideal environment for researching revolutionary technologies such as hydrogen-powered engines for climate-neutral flying. Experiments on real aircraft components and digital mapping methods go hand in hand. This will jointly optimize the design and manufacture of future aircraft. In a next step, we are looking forward to also designing and testing the ground and maintenance processes for hydrogen aircraft not only digitally but, in collaboration with Lufthansa Technik and ZAL GmbH, also on a converted A320 stationary demonstrator at Hamburg Airport.”

David Doyle, Vice President Corporate Strategy, Business Development and Innovation Management at Lufthansa Technik: “Lufthansa Technik is a founding member, shareholder and therefore a part of ZAL. We are excited about the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure, which will enable the development of pre-competitive technology expertise,” explains David Doyle, Vice President Corporate Strategy, Business Development and Innovation Management at Lufthansa Technik. Together with our new field laboratory for ground and maintenance processes in aviation, we will then have outstanding opportunities to take research into hydrogen as a future source of energy for aviation to a new level.

Nedim Husomanovic

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