One company aims to reduce the aviation industry’s reliance on fossil fuels by using clean hydrogen instead
Spotted: The aviation industry accounts for 2.5 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions – and though the percentage may seem small, it equates to over a billion tonnes of CO2 a year. If we want to meet essential net-zero targets while still making use of the ease and speed of air travel, alternative fuels or solutions need to be found.
This is where H2Fly come in. Since its founding in 2015, the company has been working towards the scalable application of hydrogen fuel in aviation, and has now completed what it claims is the world’s first manned flight powered by liquid hydrogen. This is a feat that marks a watershed in the potential advent of widespread hydrogen aircrafts.
H2Fly has now completed four successful test flights in its HY4 demonstrator aircraft, powered by a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen. Crucially, according to the company, replacing pressurised hydrogen gas storage with cryogenic hydrogen makes it possible to significantly reduce the required volume and weight of the aircraft’s fuel tank, enabling much more efficient flying.
But why hydrogen? For one, hydrogen fuel burns “cleanly” in the sense it does not directly emit CO2, unlike fossil fuels – giving hydrogen a natural advantage for longevity in a world that needs less carbon emissions. Once more, hydrogen has a high energy content per unit of weight, making it a naturally good fuel in its own right – let alone with the introduction of liquid hydrogen, which potentially doubles the range of the HY4 from 750 kilometres to 1500 kilometres.
H2Fly’s aim is to create a hydrogen economy for the air industry and is working on scaling up its technology. The company is also opening its Hydrogen Aviation Center at Stuttgart Airport in 2024, which will house fuel cell integration facilities and infrastructure for liquid hydrogen.
In the archive, Springwise has also spotted one company that’s reducing the cost of green hydrogen production through electrolysis as well as this startup that produces Sustainable Air Fuels from CO2 and hydrogen.
Written By: Archie Cox