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Delivering zero-emission technologies for sustainable airport operations

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered ground support equipment at airports

Global airports are significant sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with carbon output generated by various sources, ranging from aircraft operations to infrastructure and ground operations. Addressing the carbon footprint of ground support equipment (GSE) such as tugs, loaders, and vehicles for baggage handling, the EU-funded TULIPS consortium is fronting efforts to reduce these emissions. As a project partner, Ballard Power Systems is contributing to the development of a zero-emission tow tractor - integrating its 100kW FCmove®-HD+ hydrogen fuel cell engine.

As part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission has supported the roll-out of sustainable technologies in aviation since 2022.  Several of these innovations are being demonstrated through 17 projects at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in the Netherlands - one of Europe’s busiest airports. The TULIPS project, supported by Ballard technology, aims to demonstrate the benefits of zero-emission operations in ground handling fleets. 

The purpose of the consortium, led by Dutch Royal Schiphol Group (SNBV), is to combat the challenges of reducing emissions in the hard-to-abate aviation sector. Highlighting the commitment from the entire value chain, SNBV brings together airports, airlines, research institutes and industrial partners with the ambition of successful collaboration on this pioneering program. 

Together with GSE supplier TLD, Ballard is supporting the development of a hydrogen-powered tow tractor capable of moving large aircrafts such as the A380 and B777. The tractor is based on an existing 100-ton vehicle platform, and is powered by Ballard's FCmove®-HD+ hydrogen fuel cell engine. Providing 100kW of electric power, while maintaining a compact footprint, the FCmove®-HD+ has proved to be an ideal fit for the tractor.

The tow tractor is part of the zero-emission airside operations demonstration - one of 12 work packages in  Schiphol focused on the development and operation of vehicles and infrastructure utilizing hydrogen and fuel cell power. More information on the initiative will be delivered at the TULIPS Progress event in Turin, Italy on October 10. 

Zero-emission mobile charger for airports

In addition to this European GSE project, Ballard's fuel cell technology is also being deployed by California-based fuel services provider Universal Hydrogen for hydrogen-powered GSE applications. Universal Hydrogen offers a modular hydrogen delivery system, initially designed for hydrogen-powered aircrafts but also applicable to ground equipment.