A new life in the service of science
A decommissioned Airbus A320 is becoming the Hydrogen Aviation Lab, Hamburg's new field laboratory for developing processes for future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
The aviation industry is striving to become carbon-neutral, with hydrogen widely expected to play a role as a future energy carrier. This requires not only new aircraft but also new infrastructure on the ground. Hamburg is forging a path towards such a hydrogen infrastructure: Together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research and Hamburg Airport, we have joint forces to design and test maintenance and ground-based processes for hydrogen technology. The project is funded by Hamburg's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Innovation as well as the city's investment and development bank (IFB Hamburg).
We prepared the aircraft – which flew for Lufthansa Group for 30 years as "Halle an der Saale" – for its crucial next stage. Currently, the Hydrogen Aviation Lab is being fitted with a full suite of test systems as well as an internal tank for liquid hydrogen and an onboard fuel cell, paired with supporting ground-based hydrogen infrastructure.
While this Airbus A320 will no longer be taking to the skies, it is capable of being towed to locations at the Lufthansa Technik base and Hamburg Airport to enable real-world research of ground-based processes.