ZeroAvia and Absolut Hydrogen explore liquid hydrogen for aviation

ZeroAvia, specialising in electric aircraft propulsion, will work with Absolut Hydrogen to evaluate liquid hydrogen production, storage and refuelling at airports.

Grenoble-based Absolut Hydrogen develops liquid hydrogen systems for mobility in the air, at sea and on land. According to the ZeroAvia announcement, the partners will work together to build and demonstrate liquid hydrogen liquefaction and storage in an airport context. Later, they will “explore the technological developments, operational concept, safety procedures and standards for large-scale deployment to deliver liquid hydrogen on aircraft.”

While ZeroAvia’s first certified powertrains for an aircraft with up to 19 seats will run on gaseous hydrogen, the modular powertrain for the ZA2000 40-80 seat aircraft will require liquid hydrogen. The latter is scheduled for take-off in 2027.

Compared to gaseous hydrogen (even under high pressure of up to 700 bar), the volumetric energy density of liquid hydrogen, also known as LH2, is significantly higher. Moreover, since the pressure tanks are cylindrical and the tanks for liquids can be designed more freely and integrated into the aircraft, LH2 would allow for a larger aircraft with higher passenger capacity and greater range. However, hydrogen is only liquid at temperatures below -253 degrees Celsius – so the tanks must be actively cooled or very well insulated.

According to the statement, Absolut Hydrogen has various systems for LH2 that can cover different volume requirements. Small liquefaction systems achieve less than 50 kilograms per day, while a larger system can liquefy around 100 kilograms of hydrogen per day. There is also a system designed for one tonne per day.

ZeroAvia has already entered into two collaborations around hydrogen infrastructure on the ground this year, in March with Fortum and in February with Shell and Rotterdam Airport. In both cases, there were no details about the type of hydrogen – gaseous or liquid.

“As well as building our in-house liquid hydrogen knowledge over the last few months, it has been critical to establish partnerships to begin building the ecosystem that can deliver liquid hydrogen fuel for larger aircraft, at larger airport locations,” says Arnab Chatterjee, VP Infrastructure, ZeroAvia. “Retaining and growing aviation will bring us all closer together and keep the world small, but it depends upon this quest for zero-emission aviation being successful.”

Absolut Hydrogen CEO Jérôme Lacapère adds: “Liquid hydrogen is considered the most advantageous state for tomorrow’s aviation and heavy-duty mobility in general, and Absolut Hydrogen enables its availability thanks to its H2 liquefiers. I am convinced this partnership will lead to new standards on liquid hydrogen infrastructure for aircraft.”


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