The US specialist for electric aircraft drives MagniX has entered into a partnership with the company Universal Hydrogen. Universal Hydrogen is developing a conversion kit for the propulsion system to install in a 40-seater aircraft.
The aircraft concerned is a De Havilland Canada DHC8-Q300 – a regional aircraft that is used worldwide. The turboprop aircraft, often colloquially called ‘Dash 8’, has meanwhile been sold as Bombardier Q8 and is also in service in Europe.
According to MagniX, the new partner Universal Hydrogen is currently developing a hydrogen fuel cell electric propulsion system, which will be offered as a conversion kit for the Dash 8. The kit should be applicable to the ATR42 family, a comparable regional aircraft of the French-Italian manufacturer consortium Avions de Transport Régional.
Technical data to the fuel cell system has not yet been revealed by the companies. According to the press release, the partners are developing “a solution for a truly carbon-free flight” and this will come “sooner than you think”. So far no other information about the construction, performance or weight of the system has been provided.
This may also be due to the fact that Universal Hydrogen was only founded this year with the aim of “solving the carbon crisis in the aviation industry by making hydrogen the universal fuel for carbon-free air travel”. The company apparently relies on “its unique storage and transportation methods”. In this way, the company hopes to overcome the lack of a “cost-effective infrastructure for hydrogen transport and distribution”. The conversion kit for the Dash 8 is primarily intended to increase the market acceptance of hydrogen in aviation. However, there are also no details about the “unique storage and transport methods”.
Some basic information on the propulsion system is provided: “Universal Hydrogen’s plan for the Dash 8 includes a two-megawatt class electric propulsion system on each wing, which will be provided by magniX.” MagniX refers to the successful electric flights of Harbour Air’s seaplane in December 2019 or a converted Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, which flew purely electrically in May 2020. With the Dash 8, MagniX now wants to get closer to commercial e-flights with regional passenger aircraft. However, the company itself is not yet able to say when the conversion kit will be offered.
Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen, is also dampening hopes for an early series production. “Clearly there is still a lot to be done in terms of reducing emissions from commercial aviation, and the future of the industry lies in hydrogen-based, carbon-free energy,” Eremenko says.
“Universal Hydrogen, through its hydrogen transport and distribution infrastructure solution, is on a path to change the way regional flight is achieved and transform it from being powered by decades-old, expensive, polluting technology to low-cost clean solutions,” says Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “Together, we will bring scalable, proven technology to the next level of electric aviation”.
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