H2Fly makes breakthrough in liquid hydrogen test flights

Hydrogen propulsion pioneer H2Fly’s efforts to bring the technology to the air transport sector were invigorated by the spectacular flight of its HY4 demonstration aircraft at Maribor Airport in Slovenia last week. Co-founder and CEO Joseph Callow was visibly thrilled when he spoke to the media on the sidelines of the event, describing it as a “major milestone” and a “world’s first.”

The test flight, which followed previous test flights and ground tests, validated what Germany-based H2Fly and its partners had hoped to achieve: namelyLiquid hydrogen storage technology can be safely applied in aviation applications. The message is that we can use it “Liquid hydrogen to support mid- and long-range emission-free flight,” Callow said. We have proven that A A liquid hydrogen storage system could be used with a fuel cell system to drive an electric motor in an aircraft.

He continued: “I can proudly say that we are the first to operate flights powered by liquid hydrogen for a fuel cell electric aircraft.” Callow acknowledged that many other companies are venturing into developing hydrogen-powered flights. “We know we have competitors, we know about our competitors,” he commented. “I don’t have information that some other (company) will be flying (liquid hydrogen) next week, next month, or next year.”

For example, Universal Hydrogen conducted several flight tests this year of its 40-seat vehicle Dre Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 hydrogen electric demonstrator, It is powered unilaterally by a megawatt-sized hydrogen fuel cell payment system. ZeroAvia was completed in July The tenth flight of the Dornier 228 test aircraft, with a single Honeywell TPE331 turboprop replaced by a prototype ZA600 electric-hydrogen powertrain.

While both California startups plan to transition to liquid hydrogen (LH2), they… Only test aircraft have been used so far Gaseous hydrogen storage. The bulk of the H2Fly test campaign also used hydrogen in the gaseous state.

The HY4 demonstration aircraft – a Taurus 4G twin-fuselage Pipistrel electric aircraft – has completed more than 115 take-offs since 2016, including five LH2-powered flights. This included a 10-minute test flight on September 7, which eye It was monitored, and the flight on September 4 took three hours and one minute. The three-hour flight around Maribor Airport was successfully carried out without any battery support during a cruise and “completely obliterated our record for 2020 (two-hour flights powered by H2 gas),” Callow noted. It used about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of hydrogen.

H2Fly co-founder and CEO Joseph Callow with the HY4 demonstration aircraft. (picture: eye/ Kathy Buick)

“Depending on meteorological conditions and flight altitude, the plane uses about three kilograms of LH2 per hour. So, for an eight-hour flight, we would need about 24 kilograms of liquid hydrogen,” he said. HY4 aluminum storage tank is designed and… Provided by the French company Air Liquide It can hold up to 24kg of LH2.

Kalo confirmed this The use of cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen, which allows tank weights and volume to be significantly reduced, results in a longer range. “The HY4 experimental aircraft using gaseous hydrogen gives us a range of about 750 kilometers (466 miles).” Now, with Air Liquide’s new liquid hydrogen tank, we have a range of about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles),” he said, adding that he believes “in most applications we can go up to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles).

Building a business case

Based on pre-pandemic data, airlines fly around 600 billion passenger revenue kilometers on flights of less than 2,000 kilometers in Europe (the EU27 plus the UK) annually. “This represents a major addressable market,” Callow emphasized. For operators, it provides the opportunity to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and reduce noise pollution. For aircraft manufacturers, the H2Fly chief estimates that replacing fossil kerosene with hydrogen on regional flight paths for aircraft less than 2,000 kilometers long could create a market for new engines, hydrogen storage systems, fuel cells and electric motors worth about 10 billion euros ($10.7). Billion) annually in Europe.

“This is a multi-billion-euro market that we can enter if we scale up (fuel cell) technology from 120 kilowatt electric power to megawatt power. This One and a half megawatts “The powertrain) will enable the creation of a 40-seat regional aircraft,” Calo said. “The goal is to reduce carbon emissions by up to 2,000 kilometres,” he added, noting that he believes this will be possible based on lessons learned from the HY4’s comprehensive testing campaign.

“As an engineer, I can say that a 40-seat hydrogen-powered plane is a matter of money and time. And then it becomes visionary,” Calo said. The vision, though not impossible, is to scale up to 4-megawatt plus 4-megawatt engines, Calo said. Which can propel larger planes that seat 80 to 100 passengers.

HY4 The flights are the culmination of Project Haven, an EU-backed consortium formed to prove the feasibility of using liquids. Cryogenic hydrogen with fuel cells On planes. The group is led by H2Ffly and includes partners Air Liquide, Slovenian Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, German Aerospace Center (DLR), German EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies and Seville Social Innovation Center Fundación Ayesa. In addition, HY4 has received funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the German Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport, and the University of Ulm, where Kahlo is a professor.

Calo and a group of fellow engineers and researchers at Elm University and DLR founded H2Fly in 2015. The company, which was acquired by US eVTOL developer Joby Aviation two years ago, is based in Stuttgart and plans to open its own center. Hydrogen Aviation Center at Stuttgart Airport next year.

Aim higher and farther

As part of its scale-up project, H2Fly in June announced a project to develop the next generation of a high-performance aviation-grade fuel cell system. the new H2F-175 Systems It will be capable of delivering full megawatt power range at flight altitudes up to 27,000 feet and will be integrated into the Dornier 328 demonstration aircraft as part of “328 H2-FC” program funded by the German government To develop a hydrogen fuel cell system For flights in the EASA large aircraft category (CS-25). Flight tests are expected to begin in 2025. The 10 partners in the DLR-led project are all German, and include H2Fly, Deutsche Aircraft and Diehl Aviation, among others. The country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has allocated €30 million in funding.

Two pilots flew H2Fly’s HY4 technology demonstration aircraft in flight on September 7 in Maribor, Slovenia. (picture: eye/ Kathy Buick)

Kalo confirmed that no European Union funds were involved in the 328H2-FC project. At least not now. The public-private aviation research and innovation partnership, “Clean Aviation,” is scheduled to launch next year projects in the field of technologies for using hydrogen in aviation and developing climate-friendly aviation. “We are confident that a lot of funding can come from this side,” he said. Project Heaven has received funding from the European Union’s Joint Clean Hydrogen Project The successor to fuel cells and hydrogen partnership.

H2Fly’s long-time partner in the development of HY4 and Project Heaven, based in Slovenia Electric light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel (now part of Textron eAviation) is “unfortunately” not participating in the 328H2-FC program and H2Fly’s current upgrading project, Callow said. The company played a crucial role in obtaining the necessary permits and licenses from the Slovenian Civil Aviation Authority for the HY4 test campaigns. “The Central Auditing Agency of Slovenia was very strict and very cooperative,” Kalo said. eye. “They want to understand how new technologies work and they really want to push the opportunity to build the rules and systems for a hydrogen-powered aircraft.” He said the European Aviation Safety Agency was not involved.

Calo expects that The 40-seat, 2,000-kilometre-range regional aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen and electricity will be used in commercial service. In 2029-2030. He acknowledged that besides solving the technological challenges, achieving this goal will require certification and availability of LH2. “Hopefully by then we will have LH2 widely available at airports,” he noted, adding that public acceptance of hydrogen-powered aircraft will also play a role.

Very similar Rivals Universal Hydrogen and ZeroAvia, which have secured large orders for H2 retrofit kits, see H2Fly as the hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system of the future The system is primarily used as a retrofit solution for existing airframes. “The Dornier 328 is a very efficient 40-seat aircraft, but given the large size needs (of the aircraft) “We will need new airframe solutions,” Callow said, describing this as an “exciting opportunity” for aircraft manufacturers to develop concepts and designs. Kalo said eye that 328 H2-FC The project intends to use The Dornier 328 display aircraft as is, noting that “we would gain greater range if we took seats.” Reducing the number of seats in the cabin or reducing the cargo hold space to provide a place to store LH2 and associated fuel cell engines may not be welcomed by airlines as they always seek to maximize payload. “We will have to be able to compete with fossil fuel-powered aircraft,” Callow admitted. “In my opinion, the pressure from the market to save CO2 will become stronger in the next two years.”

Upgrading fuel cell technology from the electric four-seat Pipistrel to the 40-seat Dornier turboprop will also require upgrading LH2 onboard storage and supply to airports.

“We have shown that we can safely handle liquid hydrogen at an airport, put it in an airplane, and operate it in an airplane while taxiing and flying,” he said. Pierre Crespi, Innovation Director at Air Liquide Advanced Technologies. “we “We have a firm belief that hydrogen will be part of the decarbonization of aviation,” he added.

Project Heaven and the successful HY4 test campaign represent the first time that the French group company and world leader in industrial gases has used LH2 at a commercial airport. Air Liquide produced green liquid hydrogen in France and brought it to Maribor. “We brought 3.5 tons of LH2, which is enough to fuel this plane, which only needed 12 kilograms for the test flight,” he joked. Air Liquide used standard LH2 nozzles to refuel its HY4 aircraft, but the company is working on developing future nozzles “because we will need to refuel larger and more aircraft in the future,” Crespi said. eye.

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