Climate Assessment of Hydrogen Combustion Aircraft: Towards a Green Aviation Sector

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

18 Downloads (Pure)


As climate change aggravates, the aviation sector strives to minimize its climate footprint. To this end, international organizations, such as ICAO and ACARE, are promoting mitigation measures including novel technologies, operations, and energy carriers to reduce aircraft emissions significantly. Hydrogen (H2) as an alternative fuel has the advantage of eliminating CO2 and soot emissions and the potential to reduce NOx emission substantially. Nevertheless, burning H2 emits more H2O and increases the contrail formation probability. Therefore, the actual climate impact of hydrogen aircraft is still uncertain. This paper intents to evaluate the climate impact of a hydrogen powered aircraft considering the effects of H2O, NOx , and contrails . To frame the contribution of each individual climate agent, the research compares a hydrogen and a kerosene aircraft with similar mission capabilities. To assess the climate impact, a modeling chain was developed including network selection, flight routes calculation, aircraft and propulsion performance, emissions prediction, and climate impact assessment. In total, 2.24 million flights covering 1128 city pairs were analyzed. The energy consumption of hydrogen aircraft is about 10% higher than that of the kerosene aircraft due to the larger wetted area for hydrogen storage. However, the average atmospheric temperature response caused by the hydrogen aircraft is 67% lower compared to the kerosene aircraft due to the absence of CO2, the lower radiative forcing of hydrogen contrails, and the reduction in NOx emissions when assuming advanced hydrogen combustion technology. It was also observed that climate impact from hydrogen aircraft is more sensitive to flights over the tropics than to flights over the poles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech Forum 2023
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-699-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventAIAA SCITECH 2023 Forum - National Harbor, MD & Online, Washington, United States
Duration: 23 Jan 202327 Jan 2023


ConferenceAIAA SCITECH 2023 Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Climate Assessment of Hydrogen Combustion Aircraft: Towards a Green Aviation Sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this