Russian Technology Firm Developing Hydrogen-Powered Airplane Engine

Rostec stated on Thursday that the United Engine Corporation (a subsidiary of the state-owned Rostec) has begun work on creating hydrogen-powered aircraft engines and ground-based power units.

“At the [MAKS-2021] International Aerospace Show, the United Engine Corporation inside Rostec announced that it is launching a program to build aircraft and ground-based power units utilizing hydrogen fuel,” Rostec stated in a statement.

“We are contemplating two main technologies: direct hydrogen fuel combustion in modified gas turbines and the fuel’s electrochemical transformation into electric power using fuel cells,” stated Yuri Shmotin, CEO of United Engine Corporation.

In the summer of 2021, the United Engine Corporation formed a working group for the project and began experimental design development. The taskforce is made up of experts from several United Engine Corporation subsidiaries. The work on creating hydrogen-powered units will be done in collaboration with scientific and sectoral institutes, as well as organizations with practical expertise with hydrogen fuel, according to Rostec.

According to Shmotin, one of the most promising avenues for reducing carbon footprint in aviation and the oil and gas sector is the use of hydrogen fuel.

There are two ways to use hydrogen, according to Rostec: burning gas in an engine and building fuel cells, in which hydrogen interacts with oxygen to create electric power while releasing water vapor into the air.

Russia is on track to become a worldwide leader in hydrogen production and exports, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. As Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov has indicated, hydrogen will be the primary mode of transportation in the near future. The Russian government is now debating the notion of building hydrogen-powered and electric transportation in Russia until 2030.