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In mid-1970-s of previous century energy strategic dominated in the USSR according

to which all atomic energy was supposed to be utilized first while oil and gas should
have been considered of minor importance in view of small resources as they
erroneously believed at that time.

Realization of Hydrogen Energy Program

started. Tupolev’s specialists were involved in
the Program. As it used to happen many times
in the background of our company – Alexey
Tupolev took a courageous decision - to build
“Hydrogen” aircraft. Such aircraft was built and
successfully tested without any serious
incidents. It was preceded by a long-term
Program of bench and ground tests intended
for testing functioning of new systems (such
systems were more than 30 on the aircraft)
and mainly for providing safe operation.

Unfortunately mentioned above energy strategy turned to be not very correct. Atomic
energy has not become dominating. It was natural gas that turned to be of
paramount importance in the Energetic Program of our country. The content of
natural gas exceeds 50% of energy balance. That’s why our flying laboratory having
status of experimental TU-155 a/c was modified to use not only liquid hydrogen but
also to use Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This is how the first in the world Cryogenic
Aircraft was built.

Remarkable properties of liquid hydrogen as aviation fuel and first of all its high
ecological cleanliness, high heat of combustion and high cooling capacity attracted
attention of aviation specialists to this type of fuel. Liquid hydrogen allows to improve
aircraft performance significantly, to build aircraft operating at speeds of M>6.
Therefore our activities on liquid hydrogen served as a scientific and technological
work done which will be used in near-term outlook. However extremely high price of
liquid hydrogen makes its commercial use impossible for a long time.

If to speak about near future tomorrow task is

to introduce LNG as aviation fuel which was
reflected in “Program on development of
Russian civil aviation for the period from 2002
to 2010 and for the period till 2015”.
Oil shortage is growing. During previous 25 years specific weight of oil in worlds
energy balance decreased by more than 10%.

Currently price of kerosene is 8000 rubles per tone, LNG price is 3000 rubles per
tone. Benefit makes 5000 rubles per each tone of replaced kerosene. The benefit is
likely to grow constantly according to opinion of many specialists.

Recently some special scientific “explosion” happened in the world and especially in
Russia that provoked a vision that traditional and non-traditional resources of natural
gas can be increased by an order magnitude greater and exceed total amount of
traditional fossil fuel on earth.

Natural gas is supplied to substantially each airfield via pipelines i.e. transportation
issues have been practically solved now. Its high energy capacity, huge cooling
capacity make it possible to build aircraft with significantly high performance in
comparison with aircraft using kerosene. Fuel efficiency of flight using LNG can make
10 g/pass, km.

When using LNG potential emission of toxic agents will be decreased as follows:
carbon monoxide – 1 – 10 times, hydrocarbons – 2.5 – 3 times, nitrogen oxides – 1.5 –
2 times, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including benzapyrene – 10 times.

TU-155 a/c was built on the basis of serial TU-

154B a/c. To use cryogenic fuel airframe and
some standard systems were modified,
cryogenic fuel charging, storage and feeding
systems were installed that ensured
fire/explosion safety, and data acquisition and
recording system as well.

In safety purpose experimental cryogenic fuel complex was disposed within special
compartment isolated from adjacent fuselage compartments by buffer areas
provided with ventilation system.

Experimental LNG- or Hydrogen – powered NK-88 engine is located in the rightside


Cryogenic fuel resource is kept in fuel tank of 17.5 m3 capacity installed in special
compartment in rear portion of passenger cabin.

To charge the aircraft with cryogenic fuels special charging complex was made which
in view of safety was located on separated site that was also used for a/c parking and
maintenance. Cryogenic fuel is delivered to the site by filling truck. Some issues
concerning components and systems of experimental cryogenic TU-155 a/c were
studied on ground rigs.
Creation of the aircraft was accompanied by serious scientific and research works and
elaboration of large amount of regulatory documentation.

15 April, 1988 the aircraft performed its

maiden flight using liquid hydrogen. Upon
flight testing and development 18 January,
1989 TU-155 a/c performed its first flight on
liquefied natural gas. Large flight testing
Program was fulfilled, several international
flight demonstrations were made including
those to Bratislava (Czhekoslovakia), Nice
(France), Berlin and Ganover (Germany).

Appearance of TU-155a/c changed

dramatically scope of tasks for creation of
cryogenic aviation. It was demonstrated in
reality that using existing technical aids power
plant has been built which allowed to operate
Hydrogen- or LNG-powered aircraft with the
same safety level than those working on

Main result of the works on TU-155 aircraft represented creation of following:

• collectives of specialists skilled in aviation cryogenics in a number of companies;

• ground infrastructure to support cryogenic aircraft;

• complex of ground cryogenic rigs.

A real possibility appeared to turn to creation of LNG-powered aircraft.

In the course of the aircraft building several pioneering technical approaches were
developed that were embodied on the aircraft and on rigs.

Experience of ensuring fire/explosion safety of cryogenic aircraft is unique. Principles

and technical approaches that were developed when solving this problem (for
example gas test system newly applied) will be used on all future cryogenic aircraft.

The same is about power plant of the aircraft which main technical approaches are
quite new. Engine scheme and cryogenic components, fuel pumps, pressure
maintenance system and cryogenic fuel tanks - all odd these could be utilized in
future developments.
Tupolev” PSC elaborated Cryogenic Aircraft
Manufacturing Program. On the first phase of this
Program TU-156 a/c was built.

Cargo-passenger TU-156 a/c was designed for

optimization of airborne cryogenic fuel system
during long-term operation and its certification and
also for optimization of ground infra-structure.
Cryogenic components of the aircraft will be
installed on consequent serial Tupolev’s cryogenic

The aircraft uses two fuels: aviation kerosene and

liquefied natural gas which makes it possible to
operate the aircraft from usual airfields and from
airfields provided with LNG fueling systems. Use of
two fuels improves flight safety level significantly.

TU-156 a/c is capable to carry 14 t of payload for

distance 2600 km using LNG and for distance of
3300 km using LNG and kerosene. In rear portion of
passenger cabin there is a ventilated compartment
to receive a main cryogenic tank of 13 t capacity.
Nose baggage compartment is provided with
ventilated bay wherein trim cryogenic fuel tank is
installed composed of two horizontal
communicating vessels capable to receive 3.8 tones
of LNG.

Substantially all technical publication and records

have been issued for TU-156 a/c. NK-89 prototype
engine and a number of other cryogenic
components have been manufactured and are being
tested on benches.

To support activities on TU-156 a/c manufacturing a