Thursday, February 22, 2024

Three aviation firms join forces to develop hydrogen fuel systems for aviation

Aviation accounts for a relatively small share of global emissions but is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize. It’s becoming increasingly clear that sustainable air travel is vital in order to achieve global net zero emissions by 2050.

In a mission to find a viable alternative to fossil fuels, aerospace manufacturers Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker Aerospace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the potential of liquid hydrogen fuel system solutions for the next generation of zero-emission aircraft. This is a significant step forward in the quest to find a viable alternative to fossil fuels in the aviation industry.

Hydrogen propulsion technologies, including fuel-cell and combustion-powered aircraft, are considered a critical pathway for the aviation industry to achieve its ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The liquid hydrogen fuel system to be developed jointly by the trio of partners under this MoU will be capable of supporting both hydrogen-electric and combustion applications. In developing the system, Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker will combine their extensive experience in designing, testing, certification, and manufacturing novel fuel systems for aerospace applications, GKN Aerospace said in a statement.

The project will benefit significantly from the ongoing UK Aerospace Technology Institute-funded GKN Aerospace-led H2GEAR program, which will ground test a scalable hydrogen electric fuel cell propulsion system in 2025.

The partnership intends to bring the complete, scalable fuel system and propulsion system together in a single flight test bed environment before the end of the decade.

“Hydrogen fuel systems play a critical role in achieving zero emissions in aviation, and we are confident that this partnership will enable us to further advance our expertise in this area and drive the development of innovative solutions that support a more sustainable future,” Tracy Rice, VP Technology and Innovation for Parker Aerospace said in the press release.

Initial studies suggest that such a system could support a wide range of aircraft, including commuter planes (under 19 passengers), business jets, and regional aircraft (up to 100 passengers). The scalability of the system for larger narrow-body aircraft is currently being studied.