Green hydrogen infrastructure for the world’s first commercial hydrogen flights
Feb 05 2021
Protium Green Solutions, the green hydrogen energy services company, has secured a significant grant for Project HEART from the UK Government as part of the latest Future Flight Challenge in partnership with Blue Bear Systems and ZeroAvia. Blue Bear Systems is the leading supplier of innovation and products in unmanned systems, and ZeroAvia is a US-based innovator and leader of decarbonising commercial aviation. Other consortium members include Britten-Norman, LoganAir, Inmarsat, Highlands & Islands Airport, Weston Williamson + Partners, Fleetondemand and Edinburgh Napier University.
The grant has been awarded as part of the UK Government’s Future Flight programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Government’s modern industrial strategy, which invites businesses and innovators to take part in or source partners for revolutionising aviation as part of a £125 million challenge. The project commenced in December 2020 and will take 12-14 months to be completed.
Protium will use the funds to determine the optimal methods for safely and commercially producing, storing, and distributing green hydrogen for aviation activities, with support from its consortium partners.
The consortium will examine the potential of a hydrogen powered 19-seater, 500-mile range aircraft. Blue Bear will also work with Britten-Norman and Loganair to develop automated flight solutions with the use of ‘digital co-pilots’ and to consider the potential to increase the automation of ground vehicles in the chosen airports.
The project will finish in Q1 2022, with the consortium partners looking to a potential follow-on bid for the Phase III of Future Flight, which would result in the construction and operation of the world’s first operating zero emission 19-seater commercial aircraft, with dedicated green hydrogen infrastructure.
ZeroAvia, the leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has previously been involved with similar projects, having received a £2.7 million grant last year to support in the project’s development and principal technology to enable practical, zero emission aviation in commercial aircraft.
The grant represents another landmark milestone for Protium and follows shortly after receiving a £70,000 grant from the Department of Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy this month. The grant was provided for the HyLaddie project, which will determine how to incorporate innovative hydrogen combustion technology for Islay-based Bruichladdich Distillery. In Q4 last year, Protium also signed a green hydrogen fuel switching feasibility assessment with a renowned UK manufacturer, as well as a Heads of Terms agreement with horticultural engineering firm, CambridgeHOK. Furthermore, in Q3 last year Protium and ZeroAvia signed a Heads of Terms agreement, allowing the companies to join forces to work closely with aviation organisation to develop and expand green hydrogen infrastructure across the UK.
Commenting on the announcement, Chris Jackson, CEO of Protium, said: “This could lead to a significant breakthrough for not only the aviation sector but also the fuel cell and renewable energy industry. This is a brilliant example of industries working collaboratively to achieve net zero targets and together, with the consortium, we have a real opportunity to pave the way for sustainable, emission-free air travel. We’re delighted to be working on this ground-breaking project.”
Andy Smith, Head of Sustainability Strategy at Loganair, said: “Hydrogen based propulsion systems for aircraft are an exciting emerging technology with the potential to eliminate emissions for sub-regional air transportation. We are very pleased to be working alongside so many innovative and ambitious partners with the common goal of finding sustainable and cost-effective transport solutions for the Highland and Island communities we serve.”
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