Aviation accounts for about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the industry is growing rapidly. While airlines and some industry groups have pledged to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, the need to fly is hard to come by without fossil fuels.
Hydrogen fuel cells represent one possible avenue that some companies hope can help reduce emissions from the aviation industry, but to achieve significant reductions, the technology will need to be scaled up to power relatively large aircraft.
“This puts us directly on the path to a commercial launch,” ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Miftakhov said at a press conference announcing the results of the test flight.
ZeroAvia has raised more than $140 million in funding from investors including United Airlines and American Airlines, as well as Bill Gates’ energy venture fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. According to Miftakhov, the company has also received more than 1,500 pre-orders for hydrogen fuel cell systems from customers.
The startup has been conducting test flights with smaller aircraft for years, with varying degrees of success. In 2021, one is Forced to land, aircraft damaged After the battery backup system is turned off. With only the hydrogen fuel cell running, the plane’s electric motors lost power.
Battery system underpins recently delayed January 2023 test flight of 19-seat aircraft From Summer 2022The batteries provided about 50 percent of the power to the left side of the aircraft throughout the flight, with the hydrogen fuel cell system providing the other 50 percent.