New consortium to develop Liquid Hydrogen Tank technology

A new project led by aerospace manufacturing specialists, TISICS, aims to develop lightweight components to reduce the environmental impact of the aviation sector. This project focuses on hydrogen as a zero-emission fuel for commercial aircraft to help the UK deliver its pledge for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

AETHER, co-funded by the ATI Programme, brings together a consortium of UK-based SMEs and research organisations with over thirty years of experience and expertise in materials, manufacturing, design, computational modelling, testing and product safety.

AETHER is collaboration between TISICS, M.Wright & Sons, OXECO and the University of Derby’s Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE), who aim to develop scalable manufacturing methods capable of delivering large liquid hydrogen storage tanks for future aircraft.

Sustainable aviation is critical if the UK is to succeed in its net zero ambitions and ensure the UK leads the introduction of hydrogen powered aircraft. Estimates show that hydrogen combustion reduces in-flight climate impact by between 50-75% and fuel-cell propulsion by 75-90%.

AETHER aims to overcome the challenges faced by conventional materials when storing cryogenic hydrogen for long-service in aircraft. The project will develop scalable technology, optimising the use of different material systems to meet the functional needs of tanks for long-term, safe aviation use and provide the UK with unique opportunities to generate advanced tank manufacturing technologies with worldwide markets.

Developing this technology in the UK enhances the country’s existing aerospace industry and export market potential, creating new advanced engineering and manufacturing jobs to fulfil the UK’s commitment to a net zero future.

“AETHER is a differentiating solution for the UK, which the ATI is pleased to support,” said Prof Simon Weeks, chief technology officer for the ATI. “TISICS and its consortium partners are developing a unique capability – one that is being applied to solve a significant challenge for hydrogen fuel storage systems. Their high-performance material solution will deliver much improved weight efficiency, and play an important role in making hydrogen-powered aircraft a reality.”

Stephen Kyle-Henney, managing director, TISICS, said: “We’re excited to combine world-leading expertise in multi-material coatings, 3D woven composites, advanced modelling and net shape manufacture to tackle the challenge of delivering future lightweight hydrogen propulsion systems. AETHER has the opportunity to create the fundamental building blocks that can accelerate the adoption of hydrogen powered systems manufacturing in the UK.”

Professor Angelo Maligno, Professor of Composite Materials and Project Lead at the University of Derby, said: “We look forward to collaborating with our partners on this project to improve the reliability of materials and inform standards that guide development and use of hydrogen technologies.

“The team is enthusiastic to contribute to this research on storage systems for liquid hydrogen, which will have a significant impact on reducing the carbon footprint in aviation.”



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