ZeroAvia partners with green hydrogen aircraft refueling in California

ZeroAvia, a company trying to achieve zero-emissions aviation using hydrogen electric power, on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with hydrogen refueling company ZEV Station to develop green hydrogen refueling infrastructure at California airports.

California is at the forefront of sustainability with its low carbon fuel standard and major efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The aviation industry faces major hurdles to decarbonization, including range and capacity issues related to battery power. Hydrogen is considered a zero-emission fuel option for the sector, but it will only emit if the hydrogen is produced using renewable energy.

“California leads the world in adopting zero-emission vehicles through forward-thinking policies and infrastructure deployment, and zero-emission flight infrastructure at airports is the next natural frontier. ZeroAvia’s partnership with ZEV Station is going to be an important part of this journey,” said Arnab Chatterjee, Vice President of Infrastructure at ZeroAvia, in the release.

ZeroAvia, ZEV Station partnership details

The two companies will work together to develop a regional airport project that will demonstrate how hydrogen-electric propulsion systems can deliver zero-emission commercial flights, according to a statement.

ZeroAvia will contribute its R&D in hydrogen production and refueling for aviation, and ZEV Station will contribute its experience in supplying hydrogen gas for on-road fuels.

The partnership includes demonstration projects of hydrogen-electric aircraft flights from pilot airports supported by the co-developed green hydrogen fueling system.

“There is great potential to leverage these learnings towards creating zero-emissions airports with a large scale hydrogen production plant, an H2-Hub. This H2-Hub, with zero-carbon energy, would generate a significant amount of green hydrogen on-site for aircraft and vehicles,” ZEV station CEO and CTO Jesse Schneider said in a statement.

“This could entirely offset the need for carbon-based fuel at airports, but much more needs to be done to make this a common reality. ZEV Station sees the partnership with ZeroAvia as a key catalyst to help kickstart aviation hydrogen refueling in California and beyond,” Schneider continued.

Given that airports are “high demand hotspots” due to high volumes of aircraft fuel, creating green hydrogen hubs at airports could help improve economies of scale for hydrogen production. green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysers powered by renewable energy. This only results in oxygen as a by-product, instead of greenhouse gas emissions, which are released during the conventional hydrogen production process.

Read: Could blue hydrogen accelerate the transition to green?

“Hydrogen-electric propulsion is the only practical, holistic and economically viable solution to the industry’s comprehensive climate impacts,” Chatterjee said.

ZeroAvia’s zero-emission powertrains use hydrogen fuel in an electrochemical reaction within a fuel cell system to generate electricity, according to the release. The fuel cell system then powers electric motors that spin the propellers and produce no emissions other than water.

According to ZeroAvia, aircraft hydrogen-electric powertrains could:

  • Reduced lifecycle emissions by 90% compared to turbines.
  • Reduced powertrain operating costs by 60%.
  • Reduce hourly maintenance costs by 75%.
  • Achieve 50% range of a standard turboprop by 2024 with the same payload.
  • Achieve the same range of a standard turboprop by 2026.

“It is fantastic to see additional partnerships and project plans for carbon-free fuels such as green hydrogen. In light of the latest report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there should be a real sense of urgency to accelerate investments to rapidly scale production beyond the pilot stage to ‘to full commercialization. There is no net zero freight future without non-fossil fuels,” said Tyler Cole, director of carbon intelligence at FreightWaves.

Timeline of hydrogen aircraft development and adoption

There is a debate about when hydrogen planes will be ready to take off to transport cargo. United Airlines has said it could have them ready by 2028, while Airbus is targeting 2035 for its first hydrogen plane.

Read: Hydrogen hype? United Airlines says it could fly new-tech jets by 2028

“ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain will allow us to operate cost-effective regional freighter services using existing aircraft that are now powered by traditional turbines. Early successes from ZeroAvia’s first flight tests are promising, and we’re also excited about the extensive R&D they’ve devoted to green hydrogen production and the refueling ecosystem needed to support flight operations.” said ASL Aviation CEO David Andrews in an announcement early last month.

Additionally, ZeroAvia recently received a transport research and innovation grant from the UK Department for Transport to explore liquid hydrogen refueling concepts in an airport environment.

ZeroAvia, next steps for the ZEV station

In a few weeks, ZeroAvia plans to begin flight testing of its hydrogen-electric powertrain using its Dornier-228 testbed aircraft. This project will help develop a fully certified 600 kW model for aircraft up to 19 seats by 2024.

ZeroAvia also has partnerships with Shell, Octopus Hydrogen, Royal Schiphol Group and the Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport Foundation to create hydrogen fueling ecosystems at airports around the world.

ZEV Station designs zero-carbon fuel highway stations for fuel cell and electric vehicles. Their load testing site is expected to open in late May. The first station with charging and hydrogen should be operational in early 2023.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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