UK-based ZeroAvia and PowerCell Sweden have signed a memorandum of understanding on the joint development and series delivery of aviation fuel cell stacks. The deal will see the production of at least 5,000 aviation-optimized proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks between 2024 and 2028. The parties expect to reach a final agreement in the third quarter of 2022.
“As part of the MoU, PowerCell intends to establish a UK presence for the first time, building a production team alongside ZeroAvia’s production facilities,” ZeroAvia said.
The partnership will attempt to modify existing PowerCell stacks for optimal performance in ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric, zero-emission aviation powertrains. “PowerCell intends to assemble the modified stacks for incorporation into ZeroAvia’s prototype, and later certified, powertrains,” according to ZeroAvia.
Plans call for ZeroAvia to power 9- to 19-seat commercial aircraft to fly up to 300 nm using its ZA600 powertrains by 2024, it said, enabling flights on routes such as London to Edinburgh and Stockholm to Malmo.
After demonstration of six-seat R&D prototypes, ZeroAvia is preparing for the inaugural test flight of its 600kW hydrogen-electric propulsion unit in the coming days, which also uses PowerCell fuel stacks.
“This MoU further cements ZeroAvia’s lead in the race to deliver true zero-emission engines for commercial flights,” said Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia founder and CEO. “By co-locating this operation, we can ensure the full collaboration of both talented teams in tailoring hydrogen fuel cell stacks for aviation. This will result in delivery of systems with the required power to enable electric aviation to achieve range and payload that is highly attractive to operators and airframe OEMs while eliminating emissions.”
“Working with ZeroAvia has been a core plank of our entry into the clean aviation market, which is a very large future market for fuel cell technology,” said PowerCell Sweden CEO Richard Berkling. “We are delighted to further formalize that partnership and to establish our first UK development presence, given our opportunities here across multiple sectors.”
ZeroAvia sees its mission as delivering hydrogen-electric propulsion for every aircraft because in using hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which powers electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers, water is the only byproduct.