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limitations on using hydrogen as fuel for a jet engine? Answered

i was hoping someone could tell me how a jet engine has to be designed to be efficient using hydrogen as fuel? what are the pros and cons of this option concerning fuel efficiency and power created? any information on this would be helpful.

3 Replies

wolfkeeper (author)2011-09-28

Jet engines work GREAT on hydrogen!!

The first jet engine EVER ran on hydrogen.

The reason it's good is that it burns really quickly and easily, and the burners in most jet engines are like trying to keep a match burning in a hurricane, but hydrogen is much easier to keep going because it has such a fast flamefront.

The downside of hydrogen is that it has really low energy density, and it can detonate if you get the mix wrong.

It's not very efficient though, but only because hydrogen is inefficient to make.

For a test engine you could use compressed hydrogen gas, but you would have to look into safety quite a bit; it's unforgiving, explosive and burns with an invisible flame.

I think just about any jet engine can run on hydrogen, with only modest changes to the burners.

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Zimminger (author)2010-05-13

The best advice I can give you is to just give up on this idea because hydrogen itself doesn't have nearly the energy needed to do practical work if you want to use that energy by burning it in air.  The V2 rocket used alcohol and liquid oxygen.  The Russians use kerosene and liquid oxygen.  Americans use liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.  Why?  Bragging rights, mostly.  We're driving Maseratis into space while everyone else is driving Fords.

But that's in combination with liquid oxygen, and you seem to be talking about an air-breathing engine.  In that case hydrogen has to be liquid, is difficult to handle and has a low energy content.  This is why all jets--commercial and military--burn kerosene.

Hydrogen is an excellent fuel if you want to use it in a fuel cell or deal with the problems of also handling liquid oxygen to build a Maserati space rocket.

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kelseymh (author)2010-03-10

I can't answer you directly, but I know where to lock.  There's a hypersonic concept design out there, and a nice general discussion right along the lines of your question.

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