Blended Wing Hydrogen Tank Design Patent

Image from a Boeing patent for a hydrogen fueled blended wing body ring tank. The tank is the dark ring running around most of the fuselage. (Boeing/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)

Boeing Tuesday received a patent for a tank that could store liquid hydrogen fuel with reduced weight on a blended wing-body aircraft.

The patent application, filed in 2006, shows an aircraft very much like one that Boeing is studying under a NASA contract (see image below).

Boeing has been looking at blended wing-body designs for decades because they promise much greater efficiency. Critics, however, argue that passengers would never go for an aircraft with no or few windows.

The new patent focuses on how to put hydrogen fuel tanks on a blended wing-body jet.

"It has been proposed that aircraft will eventually transition to hydrogen fuel for increased efficiency and to reduce emissions," according to the application. "Hydrogen as fuel is more efficient, offering higher energy content per mass. Accordingly, hydrogen promises increased payload and range for aircraft. In addition, hydrogen offers benefits in terms of emissions because it can be produced by electrolysis of water and produces water when it is burned."