An Analysis of the Transition to Liquid Hydrogen Infrastructure for Airports

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Within this thesis report the transition to LH2 infrastructure at the airport is tackled. Specifically, how the airport can develop and adopt the infrastructure needed for LH2 supply logistics, storage, and refueling is researched. This process can be defined as a socio-technical transition in which a new niche technology (LH2 aviation infrastructure) develops to ultimately replace the incumbent regime (traditional kerosene-based fuel infrastructure). The process of gaining a deeper understanding of how this transition will look is guided by the transition management cycle. The methodological framework of this research followed certain steps of the transition management cycle for a specific case airport in order to explore this transition. The transition to LH2 infrastructure for Schiphol airport was addressed in order to gain in-context knowledge on the transition at hand. An extensive literature review was used in part to develop an initial infrastructure vision for Schiphol. Then, in an iterative manner, expert interviews were used to further develop an infrastructure vision which is expected to work best for the specific environment in which Schiphol finds itself. The opportunities and challenges which are apparent with this infrastructure vision were then defined. These previous findings, along with transition management theory, were used to develop a transition roadmap for Schiphol. The Schiphol-specific infrastructure vision and transition roadmap gave insight into this transition in a specific context and allowed for more general learnings to be gained on the nuances and factors influencing such a transition. The key parameters which determine how LH2 infrastructure will look at an airport along with a generalized transition roadmap were generated with this knowledge.

The way in which the LH2 infrastructural systems for LH2 supply, storage, and refueling will look for an airport are very dependent on a number of factors. Regarding the supply of LH2, an airport needs to consider its geographic proximity to a transport hub; forecasted LH2 demand; and the area, natural resources, and funds available to the airport. Storage methods will largely be based on an optimization of efficiency, required sizing, and safety. And the refueling infrastructure will likely be dependent on LH2 demand, safety considerations, and the funding available. Determining these parameters and thus determining the LH2 infrastructure vision for an airport is a central step in this transition. However, there are many other steps which need to be taken in parallel in order to develop the niche effectively. In the transition roadmap actionable steps regarding developing operational procedures, supply chains, financial sustainability, and policy are all highlighted. Then, there is also a focus on the steps to take to ensure that scaling up of this infrastructure as LH2 aviation adoption increases is addressed.