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Hydrogen Jet: Europe to Australia in 4 Hours

This Swiss hypersonic hydrogen-powered jet aims to cut flight times from Europe to Australia to 4 hours, and get you from London to New York in 90 minutes.


Destinus hypersonic hydrogen-powered jet
Destinus prototype which conducted its maiden flight in April 2022 | Credit: Destinus

Flying across the world from Europe to a destination such as Australia currently takes around 20 hours in a regular passenger jet. But a Swiss start-up is looking to cut that journey time down to just over four hours - with a hypersonic, hydrogen-powered passenger jet.


Destinus has been testing its prototype aircraft for the past couple of years, announcing successful test flights of its second prototype at the end of 2022. Now the company has announced participation in a programme run by Spain’s Ministry of Science, as part of the Spanish government’s plans to develop hydrogen-powered supersonic flights.


Hydrogen power is the subject of a lot of research and development, with proponents pointing to its green credentials, the main byproducts of hydrogen combustion being heat and water.


It's the amount of heat generated that presents a particular design challenge. However, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, recently developed 3D printed catalysts which they say can power hypersonic flight and act as a cooling agent to combat the extreme heat generated when aircraft fly five times the speed of sound, which is around 6,100 km per hour (3,790 mph).


At those speeds, future commercial airlines would be able to fly between London and New York in around 90 minutes. That's about half the time it used to take on the Concorde.


The Spanish government invests heavily in developing hydrogen propulsion as part of its economic resilience and transformation plan through strategic projects funded by the European Commission's Next Gen funds. This aligns with the Spanish Plan Nacional del Hidrógeno, which aims to make Spain a world leader in producing renewable hydrogen and developing hydrogen-based mobility in various sectors.

 

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