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Hydrogen Powered Transportation May Include Planes by 2025

Hydrogen About to Take to the Skies

 

In an interesting step seeking to make air travel cleaner, four companies are experimenting with a long-term solution by modifying a small turboprop plane. In an August 4th press release, Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG), Universal Hydrogen, magniX, and Aerotec announced the creation of a Hydrogen Aviation Test and Service Center at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.

The center will focus on the test flight and certification of Universal Hydrogen’s retrofitted conversion of a Dash-8 regional turboprop airplane. The tricked-out hydrogen version is scheduled for entry into commercial service in 2025. There is commitment among early adopters of hydrogen zero-carbon emission technology that include industry leaders that have signed a letter of intent with Universal Hydrogen. These include, Ravn Alaska, Icelandair, and Spain’s Air Nostrum, the letters of intent with Universal Hydrogen is to convert their existing and future efforts in this project.

The center will focus on the test flight and certification of Universal Hydrogen’s retrofit conversion of a Dash-8 regional turboprop aircraft, scheduled for entry into commercial service in 2025. Early adopters of the zero-carbon emission technology include Ravn Alaska, Icelandair, and Spain’s Air Nostrum, which have entered into letters of intent with Universal Hydrogen to convert their existing and future fleets to a hydrogen powertrain, and for long-term hydrogen fuel supply contracts using Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsule distribution network. The hydrogen powertrain comprises electric propulsion units (EPUs) from Everett-based magniX and fuel cells from Plug Power, which has a significant operational footprint in Spokane, Washington. Seattle-based AeroTEC will lead aircraft conversion, flight test, and certification activities, drawing on its experience with electric aviation and expertise from across the aerospace sector. The conversion work for U.S.-based airlines, flight test, as well as continuing airworthiness support would be based in AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility.

“This is a game changer for the state, and, frankly, aviation,” said Emily Wittman, President and CEO of the Seattle-based Aerospace Futures Alliance, the leading voice of the aviation industry in the state whose members include Boeing and Alaska Airlines. “The Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power, and AeroTEC teams have demonstrated a clear and credible path to zero-carbon aviation in the near term. Their investment in Moses Lake puts Washington at the forefront of these efforts. The possibilities for our state’s aviation sector are enormous.”

AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility has long been a favorite location for electric aviation projects, having recently flown a battery-powered 9-passenger Cessna 208B “eCaravan,” also powered by a magniX EPU. Universal Hydrogen’s Dash-8 conversion will be the first commercially-relevant hydrogen-powered aircraft, serving 41 to 60 passengers on routes up to 1,000 kilometers. Hydrogen fuel for the airplanes will be supplied using modular capsules that can be transported to airports using the existing freight network and on-airport cargo handling equipment, requiring no new infrastructure.

“We’re excited to have been selected by Universal Hydrogen as a trusted development partner,” said AeroTEC founder and CEO, Lee Human. “This program will leverage AeroTEC’s aircraft integration expertise and modification facilities in Moses Lake, and will not only bring an exciting new set of flight tests to the region, but also a long-term aircraft conversion and continued airworthiness program. This solidifies Moses Lake’s place as a leader in zero-carbon flight.”

“The decarbonization of aviation through hydrogen is critical for a zero-carbon economy,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “From its days as a World War II air training center to a center today for alternative fuel development and flight testing, Moses Lake, Washington has led the way in aviation, energy, and innovation. With our team in Spokane, we are proud to be a part of this landmark Hydrogen Aviation Center.”

“We are collaborating with these amazing partners to propel the future of aviation,” said magniX CEO, Roei Ganzarski. “Zero emissions aviation is no longer a dream—together we are making it a reality.”

“Moses Lake and Washington State are the perfect location for us to base this center,” said Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen co-founder and CEO. “The tremendous aerospace and cleantech workforce, our incredible partners here, abundant renewable electricity for green hydrogen production, and the support of local and state governments is unparalleled.”

Universal Hydrogen completed its Series A investment round earlier in the year, Silicon Valley venture fund, Playground Global, with the investor syndicate comprising Plug Power, Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota Ventures, and Sojitz Corporation.


About Universal Hydrogen

Universal Hydrogen is making hydrogen-powered commercial flight a closer reality. The company takes a flexible, scalable, and capital-light approach to hydrogen logistics by transporting it in modular capsules over the existing freight network from green production sites to airports around the world. To accelerate market adoption, Universal Hydrogen is also developing a conversion kit to retrofit existing regional airplanes with a hydrogen-electric powertrain compatible with its modular capsule technology.

“Zero emissions aviation is no longer a dream—together we are making it a reality.”

“This is a game changer for the state, and, frankly, aviation,” said Emily Wittman, President and CEO of the Seattle-based Aerospace Futures Alliance, the leading voice of the aviation industry in the state whose members include Boeing and Alaska Airlines. “The Universal Hydrogen, magniX, Plug Power, and AeroTEC teams have demonstrated a clear and credible path to zero-carbon aviation in the near term. Their investment in Moses Lake puts Washington at the forefront of these efforts. The possibilities for our state’s aviation sector are enormous.”

AeroTEC’s Moses Lake facility has long been a favorite location for electric aviation projects, having recently flown a battery-powered 9-passenger Cessna 208B “eCaravan,” also powered by a magniX EPU. Universal Hydrogen’s Dash-8 conversion will be the first commercially-relevant hydrogen-powered aircraft, serving 41 to 60 passengers on routes up to 1,000 kilometers. Hydrogen fuel for the airplanes will be supplied using modular capsules that can be transported to airports using the existing freight network and on-airport cargo handling equipment, requiring no new infrastructure.

“We’re excited to have been selected by Universal Hydrogen as a trusted development partner,” said AeroTEC founder and CEO, Lee Human. “This program will leverage AeroTEC’s aircraft integration expertise and modification facilities in Moses Lake, and will not only bring an exciting new set of flight tests to the region, but also a long-term aircraft conversion and continued airworthiness program. This solidifies Moses Lake’s place as a leader in zero-carbon flight.”

“The decarbonization of aviation through hydrogen is critical for a zero-carbon economy,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “From its days as a World War II air training center to a center today for alternative fuel development and flight testing, Moses Lake, Washington has led the way in aviation, energy, and innovation. With our team in Spokane, we are proud to be a part of this landmark Hydrogen Aviation Center.”

“We are collaborating with these amazing partners to propel the future of aviation,” said magniX CEO, Roei Ganzarski. “Zero emissions aviation is no longer a dream—together we are making it a reality.”

“Moses Lake and Washington State are the perfect location for us to base this center,” said Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen co-founder and CEO. “The tremendous aerospace and cleantech workforce, our incredible partners here, abundant renewable electricity for green hydrogen production, and the support of local and state governments is unparalleled.”

Universal Hydrogen completed its Series A investment round earlier in the year, led by prominent Silicon Valley venture fund, Playground Global, with the investor syndicate comprising Plug Power, Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota Ventures, and Sojitz Corporation.

 

Take-Away

Momentum toward an economy that includes hydrogen powered transportation is moving rapidly. For long term sustainable power, lithium-ion storage, even in the solid-state form does not get heavy cargo far enough down the road, through the sky or across the ocean. Electricity generation through refillable hydrogen fuel cells may very well be the clean energy answer for industrial uses.

 

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Sources:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210804005380/en/Universal-Hydrogen-magniX-Plug-Power-and-AeroTEC-Announce-Hydrogen-Aviation-Center-at-Moses-Lake-Washington

 

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