Aerospace company ZeroAvia has successfully tested the use of a hydrogen-electric engine to power one of the propellers of a 19-seat aircraft
January 20, 2023
A plane with an experimental hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing completed a successful test flight this week. It is the largest such vehicle to date powered by a hydrogen engine.
UK- and US-based ZeroAvia conducted a 10-minute test flight using an engine that converts hydrogen fuel into electricity to power one of the plane’s two propellers. ZeroAvia aims to have commercial flights powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells by 2025.
“When people see that we can fly with zero emissions using clean fuels, we can be in a lot of places, where there is electricity and water, it changes the way people think about things,” said Jacob Lichman at Washington State University.
The demonstration at Cotswolds Airport in Gloucestershire, UK also marked the first flight of the 19-seat Dornier 228, which has been converted into a test aircraft. It’s a much larger plane than the six-seat Piper Malibu that ZeroAvia has been using to test hydrogen-electric engines since 2020.
If follow-up testing goes well, ZeroAvia aims to submit a hydrogen-electric engine for regulatory certification in 2023. It may also pave the way for larger engines for 90-seat aircraft.
“Having tested hydrogen fuel cell-based aircraft on a smaller scale, we understand that as long as we demonstrate greater power levels in larger aircraft,” kirubaharan at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The aviation start-up has received investment from American Airlines and has signed an agreement for a possible future order of up to 100 hydrogen-electric engines.
Airbus, one of the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers, has also previously announced plans to use hydrogen fuel Develop the first zero-emissions commercial aircraft by 2035.but Airbus admits Most commercial airliners will still use gas turbine engines until at least 2050.
Shifting commercial aviation to truly zero-emissions flight will require more than just swapping conventional jet fuel for hydrogen.Hydrogen fuel production also requires electricity that may still come from the grid run on fossil fuels – Although researchers are studying Cleaner production of hydrogen Quantities sufficient to power a fleet of aircraft.
“When you really think about trying to do sustainable hydrogen aviation, you have to figure out how to get hydrogen at scale,” he said john hansman at MIT. “We’re talking a lot of hydrogen.”
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