ASP projects

Pure Wings: H2-supplied electric aircraft. Enabling technologies for innovative hydrogen aircraft propulsion with operation costs and logistics impact evaluation

Now more than ever, the establishment of a sustainable energy future is one of the most pressing tasks of mankind. The increasing prices of fossil fuel sources and the climate change issues moved the research to new fields and new frontiers. In the world of aeronautics, this problem is becoming a key issue due to the high energy and fuel consumption and the growing number of flights.
In this framework, we tried to merge the technical competence and the economic aspects in order to make a feasibility study of hydrogen-fuelled aircrafts and to design a sustainable and clean ground support system for regional or international aircrafts. A ground support system aims to provide the aircraft with energy while it is waiting for takeoff in the airport. The project sets itself into a larger context: the SkySpark challenge (, whose goal is to design and build a complete “ecological” aircraft. The SkySpark project was born in 2007, when prof. Paolo Maggiore research group, from Politecnico di Torino, joined the startup DigiSky of Maurizio Cheli. They worked together for the official project launch (at the beginning of 2009) and its realization (the first great result was the first fly during Word Air Games in Turin, June 2009), and now they all participate in its continuation. The task of the project was divided between two teams. Team Inside was in charge of the feasibility study whereas Team Outside was decided to design a hydrogen-fed ground support system that could be used in a real airport.
The feasibility study was carried out by assessing the performances that an hydrogen-fed electric powertrain would allow if extended to different aircraft models, both considering the 2010 and the expected 2030 technology scenario and evaluating case by case the resulting cost-feasibility and environmental impact. Moreover, a deeper analysis was taken by means of a simulator of the Pioneer 300, the aircraft considered in the SkySpark project.
In order to design the hydrogen-fed ground support system, Team Outside decided to study major hydrogen production systems in terms of energy required, CO2 emissions and costs, and to analyze all GPU-system components: from the hydrogen production, to its compression and storage and its utilization in the fuel cells.
For a better comprehension of the project feasibility, the first objective was to base the whole study on two case studies (Levaldigi and Malpensa) in order to highlight the problematic issues and the potentialities of the solution. An analysis had been made to understand the real advantages of such a solution, the time needed to charge/discharge the hydrogen cylinders, the extension of solar panels and storage facilities. The idea was to create an extensible model for aircraft support system (a modular unit), that could be applied and scaled to any airport.
Another important objective was to underline safety problems and issues related to the H2 production and usage, and the necessity of a plan to incentive the diffusion of a “hydrogen economy”.

Principal Academic Tutor
Paolo Maggiore
Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino

Academic Tutors
Paolo Guglielmi
Electrical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Gianmario Pellegrino
Electrical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino

External institution
DigiSky s.r.l.
Camera di Commercio di Torino
The MathWorks s.r.l.

External Tutors
Enrico Busto
The MathWorks s.r.l.
Fabrizia Grande
The MathWorks s.r.l.
Gianpiero Masera
Camera di Commercio di Torino
Paola Vallauri
The MathWorks s.r.l.

Team members
Noemi Chiappin [Team controller], Mathematical Engineering
Andrea Montebelli, Chemical Engineering
Giovanni Moretti, Aeronautical Engineering
Alessandro Morselli, Space Engineering
Federico Nitidi, Civil Engineering
Michele Tamagnone, Electronic Engineering

Luca Chiarandini, Computer Engineering
Marco Ciuffreda [Team controller], Aerospace Engineering
Margherita Dallorto, Energy and nuclear Engineering
Marta Nadia Guzzafame [Project Communication Coordinator], Materials Engineering
Marko Radeta, Communication Design

Download the poster of the Project