Hydrogen aircraft startup raises £2.7m for UK operation
The grant is part of the ATI programme that will fund ZeroAvia’s HyFlyer project to demonstrate principal technology readiness for a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain in an electric aircraft. The Government’s grant is matched by Project HyFlyer participants for a total of £5m (US$6.2m) funding and ZeroAvia will open UK operations in Cranfield.
The project aims to demonstrate a UK-based flight of 250-300 nautical miles in a Piper M-class six-seater aircraft powered by hydrogen. The HyFlyer project is a key step on ZeroAvia’s journey towards supplying to commercial operators and aircraft manufacturers in 2022, initially targeting up to 500-mile regional flights in 10 to 20-seat fixed-wing aircraft. ZeroAvia’s solution aims to deliver the same performance as a conventional aircraft engine, but with zero carbon emissions and at around half of the operating costs.
“The substantial backing provided by the UK Government underlines the potential that hydrogen holds as a fuel source for commercial aviation and provides significant validation of ZeroAvia’s approach to zero emission flight,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia Founder and CEO. “Our project goal of 300 NM is equivalent to the distance from London to Edinburgh and will prove that zero emission aviation, powered by hydrogen, can play a key role within the UK and other countries’ transport strategies – enabling net zero targets to be met and improving productivity and regional prosperity.”
“This exciting project, delivered with £2.7 million of Government support, further strengthens the UK’s reputation as a global leader in aviation innovation,” said Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Business and Industry) at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. “We are leading the world in tackling climate change, going further and faster by becoming the first major economy to pass new laws for net zero emissions by 2050.”
At the same time the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) will investigate the infrastructure needed to fuel the aircraft with green hydrogen, initially on Orkney with a view to replicating this infrastructure across other airports over time. EMEC produces green hydrogen from wind and tidal energy and are driving the development of a hydrogen economy on Orkney. Fuel cell engineering company Intelligent Energy will collaborate with ZeroAvia on the optimization of its evaporative cooling fuel cell technology for aviation use cases, while Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) will assist with integrating ZeroAvia’s powertrain into the Piper airframe and host the ZeroAvia team at their hangar facilities.
ZeroAvia will also form a technology partnership with Cranfield University, one of the leading aerospace universities worldwide, to benefit from its unique talent pool and aerospace & powertrain legacy.