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Design Investigation of Potential Long-Range Hydrogen Combustion Blended Wing Body Aircraft with Future Technologies


Present work investigates the potential of a long-range commercial blended wing body configuration powered by hydrogen combustion engines with future airframe and propulsion technologies. Future technologies include advanced materials, load alleviation techniques, boundary layer ingestion, and ultra-high bypass ratio engines. The hydrogen combustion configuration was compared to the configuration powered by kerosene with respect to geometric properties, performance characteristics, energy demand, equivalent CO2 emissions, and Direct Operating Costs. In addition, technology sensitivity studies were performed to assess the potential influence of each technology on the configuration. A multi-fidelity sizing methodology using low- and mid-fidelity methods for rapid configuration sizing was created to assess the configuration and perform robust analyses and multi-disciplinary optimizations. To assess potential uncertainties of the fidelity of aerodynamic analysis tools, high-fidelity aerodynamic analysis and optimization framework MACHAero was used for additional verification. Comparison of hydrogen and kerosene blended wing body aircraft showed a potential reduction of equivalent CO2 emission by 15% and 81% for blue and green hydrogen compared to the kerosene blended wing body and by 44% and 88% with respect to a conventional B777-300ER aircraft. Advancements in future technologies also significantly affect the geometric layout of aircraft. Boundary layer ingestion and ultra-high bypass ratio engines demonstrated the highest potential for fuel reduction, although both technologies conflict with each other. However, operating costs of hydrogen aircraft could establish a significant problem if pessimistic and base hydrogen price scenarios are achieved for blue and green hydrogen respectively. Finally, configurational problems featured by classical blended wing body aircraft are magnified for the hydrogen case due to the significant volume requirements to store hydrogen fuel.

Funding source: This research was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy-EXC 2163/1-Sustainable and Energy Efficient Aviation-Project-ID 390881007.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany ; United Kingdom

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