Liquid-Hydrogen-Fueled Airplane

England’s Reaction Engines Ltd. is developing a liquid-hydrogen-fueled airplane, called the A2, that would travel at speeds up to Mach 5, pollution-free.

A rendering of Reaction Engines' A2 hydrogen-fueled plane in flight.

England’s Reaction Engines Ltd. is working on a liquid-hydrogen-fueled plane that would emit water instead of carbon.

Illustration Courtesy Reaction Engines Ltd.

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What’s your justification for flying? Cancelling it out with carbon offsets, three-minute showers, and bike commuting? Learning some eco-tips while you were abroad? Try as we will, it’s hard to shed the guilt that comes with air travel. But we might not have to feel bad about flying forever.

England’s Reaction Engines Ltd. is working on a liquid-hydrogen-fueled airplane that would emit water instead of carbon, reports John Guilfoil for E Magazine (November/December 2012). Still in the concept stage, the A2’s designers say the plane could transport 300 passengers up to 12,430 miles at speeds much faster than today’s airplanes.

If created, the A2 should be able to travel up to Mach 5, turning today’s 24-hour flight from London to Sydney into a 5-hour jaunt. The fuel would also function as engine coolant—essential for travel at such high speeds, writes Guilfoil. The A2 would be larger than today’s planes, with another major difference: the high-speed travel would not allow for windows.

Guilfoil notes that Boeing has been testing a hydrogen-powered aerial vehicle for use in the U.S. military—the Air Force has been moving into renewables in an effort to go green and decrease oil dependency.