The National Academies

ACRP 03-75 [Pending]

Preparing for Hydrogen at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $325,000
Contract Time: 9 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin


Interest in and use of hydrogen in the airport environment is expected to grow as manufacturers are quickly developing new types of vehicles and systems that use hydrogen as a fuel. Additionally, many airports have established net-zero emissions goals. All these factors are driving a need for joint efforts to renew and improve energy infrastructure in and around airports. 

The integration of hydrogen as a fuel for both aircraft and ground vehicles could be challenging for airports, given that it will likely require significant updates to airport infrastructure, operations, and safety protocols. Because the technology is evolving quickly, there is limited understanding of hydrogen power and considerable uncertainty about the timing and degree of market penetration, readiness, and practical implications of using hydrogen at airports. 


The objectives of this research are to identify likely facility, operational, safety, and workforce requirements needed to accommodate the generation, supply, transportation, handling, use, and storage of hydrogen at U.S. airports, and to develop a guide to help airport practitioners understand the potential for hydrogen uptake at their facilities.

Considerations should include, at a minimum:

  • Impacts (positive and negative) and mitigative efforts that airport-driven hydrogen uptake may have on communities, with a focus on equity and environmental justice;
  • Uptake of liquid vs. gaseous vs. cryogenic hydrogen and strategic/capital risk mitigation considerations for airport managers;
  • Training airport staff;
  • Public safety issues, including firefighting and emergency management;
  • Production methods and sustainability performance;
  • Community engagement;
  • National, state, and local regulatory considerations;
  • Hydrogen infrastructure needs and siting considerations, including codes and permitting;
  • Hydrogen infrastructure drivers, e.g., interest from aircraft manufacturers, ground equipment operators, travel providers, etc.; 
  • Awareness of the airport’s role in the greater hydrogen economy in a way that complies with FAA grant assurances;
  • Specific planning activities in the short, medium, and long term; and
  • Best practices from current hydrogen uses (safety, environmental, permitting, etc.).


The research plan shall include at a minimum the following appropriate interim deliverables for ACRP review and approval.

Phase I:

  • A primer on the role of hydrogen and potential applications at airports as well as the considerations in the objective and relevant literature review;
  • An illustrative timeline that details relevant hydrogen-industry developments that may impact airport planning activities in the short, medium, and long term;
  • A preliminary guide, including an updated primer and illustrative timeline, detailing planning considerations for the generation, supply, transportation, handling, use, and storage of hydrogen at airports; and
  • An updated work plan that includes research gaps identified in the development of the preliminary guide. 

Phase II:

  • Deliverables identified within the approved work plan submitted in Phase I, and
  • Identification of follow-on research ideas to be developed into problem statements.

The research plan should also include checkpoints with the ACRP panel, which are, at a minimum:

  • A kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed,
  • A web meeting following the submission of the interim deliverables,
  • A 30-minute web meeting to be held the week following the delivery of each Quarterly Progress Report, and
  • A face-to-face meeting to review and address the final deliverables in Phase I.

The final deliverables will include: 

  • The guide;
  • Research gaps and work plan;
  • A Contractor’s Final Report documenting all research steps, results, and analysis;
  • A technical memo titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”;
  • A Summary of Key Findings; and
  • A Further Recommended Research Memo.


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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