The United States Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded Pratt & Whitney a project to develop new high-efficiency hydrogen propulsion systems.  

The manufacturer says the project could be a “breakthrough” technology for commercial aviation as the industry seeks ways to make flying more sustainable.  

As part of the DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the company will develop a Hydrogen Steam Injected, Inter‐Cooled Turbine Engine (HySIITE).  

The new hydrogen-powered engine will utilize liquid hydrogen combustion and water vapor recovery. The HySIITE engine will burn hydrogen in a thermodynamic engine cycle that incorporates steam injection and reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. 

The new engine would “achieve zero in-flight CO2 emissions, while reducing nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 80% and reducing fuel consumption by up to 35% for next generation single-aisle aircraft”, according to the company. 

“Pratt & Whitney has a long legacy with hydrogen-fueled propulsion, and we are excited to advance this emerging technology as part of our comprehensive strategy to support the aviation industry’s ambitious goal of achieving net zero aircraft CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Graham Webb, chief sustainability officer at Pratt & Whitney announced in a press statement.  

Webb added: “Partnerships with public agencies such as the Department of Energy have a vital role to play towards developing and maturing technologies that could have a global impact on reducing the environmental footprint of aviation.” 

Through investments into projects like ARPA-E, the US Department of Energy seeks to aid companies and innovators to develop plans to help America achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also approved a resolution for the global air transport industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

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