Christchurch engineering firm Fabrum invents world's first green aircraft hydrogen fuelling system

Christchurch engineering firm Fabrum has invented the world's first green hydrogen fuelling system for aircraft.

It's considered a potential game-changer in cutting aviation emissions. But sustainable tourism experts are taking the development in their strike.

They warn against relying on so-called "techno-fantasies" to meet emissions reduction goals.

Opening the valve on greener aviation fuel.

"Ground-based production of hydrogen, green hydrogen, through to its liquefaction, storage and dispensing to onboard fuel tanks on the aircraft," said Fabrum founder Christopher Boyle.

Christchurch engineering firm Fabrum is an expert in cryogenics - which means taking gas like hydrogen to a very cold temperature.

"For hydrogen, -253C and it turns to a liquid which makes it very dense," Boyle said.

The refuelling system allows the fuel to be stored both on the tarmac and onboard the aircraft. When burned it only produces water. But there's one big problem.

"Currently there are no aircraft to refuel using hydrogen, because hydrogen-powered aircraft don't yet exist," Boyle said.

Flying accounts for just 2 percent of global emissions - but the challenge is that it is particularly hard to decarbonize. There are renewable solutions for big emitters like transport and power generation but not yet aviation.

Sustainable tourism experts warn that relying on technological promises risks delaying meaningful climate action.

"Aviation techno-fantasies draws upon a fatal flaw - and that is pinning hopes on technologies that don't yet exist to resolve our low-carbon future needs," Otago University tourism expert Professor James Higham said.

Fabrum's refueling system has been trialled in the UK - but widespread uptake could be years away.

And given most of the world's signed up to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 - time isn't on our side.