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Assessment of Hydrogen Fuel for Rotorcraft Applications


This paper presents the application of a multidisciplinary approach for the preliminary design and evaluation of the potential improvements in performance and environmental impact through the utilization of compressed (CGH2) and liquefied (LH2) hydrogen fuel for a civil tilt-rotor modelled after the NASA XV-15. The methodology deployed comprises models for rotorcraft flight dynamics, engine performance, flight path analysis, hydrogen tank and thermal management system sizing. Trade-offs between gravimetric efficiency, energy consumption, fuel burn, CO2 emissions, and cost are quantified and compared to the kerosene-fuelled rotorcraft. The analysis carried out suggests that for these vehicle scales, gravimetric efficiencies of the order of 13% and 30% can be attained for compressed and liquid hydrogen storage, respectively leading to reduced range capability relative to the baseline tilt-rotor by at least 40%. At mission level, it is shown that the hydrogen-fuelled configurations result in increased energy consumption by at least 12% (LH2) and 5% (CGH2) but at the same time, significantly reduced life-cycle carbon emissions compared to the kerosene counterpart. Although LH2 storage at cryogenic conditions has a higher gravimetric efficiency than CGH2 (at 700 bar), it is shown that for this class of rotorcraft, the latter is more energy efficient when the thermal management system for fuel pressurization and heating prior to combustion is accounted for.

Funding source: The authors would like to express their gratitude to Rolls Royce plc. for funding this research
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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