The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Waste-to-Energy Pioneer Uniwastec Targets Hydrogen Fuel Production for Aviation

Uniwastec is making its first moves into the aviation sector with its plans to develop hydrogen fuel from wastewater. The company has partnered with Lyte Aviation, which is developing a pair of high-capacity, hybrid-electric aircraft for passenger and freight operations, with a view to supplying operators with net zero carbon fuel at airports and other landing sites.

Switzerland-based Uniwastec is a waste-to-energy specialist that has devised a production process for converting industrial wastewater or saltwater into hydrogen using clean-energy sources. According to the company, the process requires only 39 kW/hrs of energy to produce a kilogram of hydrogen, which it says is 30 percent less than other hydrogen suppliers need, with the differential set to increase to up to 36 percent within a year of production starting.

Under its agreement with Lyte Aviation, Uniwastec is exploring the potential to establish hydrogen production in the island and coastal locations that the aircraft developer is targeting for its 40-seat SkyBus LA-44 aircraft and the SkyTruck LA-44C freighter version. Lyte Aviation launched its plans in March and is now fundraising as well as exploring early use cases for the tandem tilt-wing vehicles in places such as Seattle and the Middle East.

Fleet Management Specialist Amros Backs Lyte's eVTOL Aircraft Plan

Last week, Europe-based Lyte Aviation also announced a partnership with fleet-management group Amros Global, which will provide expertise in areas such as supply chain management, certification, and airworthiness compliance. According to Lyte Aviation founder and CEO Freshta Farzam, Amros will help her team to complete the design work and then manufacture its first prototype aircraft around a year from now as it works toward targeted type certification and service entry in 2030.

Amros currently supports multiple airlines, as well as leasing groups and hedge funds. It can handle all aspects of delivering aircraft to operators.

Uniwastec’s chief investment officer Cord Hinrichs told FutureFlight that its production process requires no more than around 2,000 square feet of space and a pair of 40-foot containers for the hydrogen fuel. This could be located at an airport or within about 40 miles of a landing site to refuel aircraft. The company also plans to produce sustainable aviation fuel from cattle slurry, after separating solid waste from fluids.

The company is finalizing agreements to establish production sites in Oman and the UAE, as well as at a hydrogen hub in Texas. Hinrichs said it is additionally working on an agreement with a wastewater supplier in California. It also aims to support applications such as logistics, ground vehicles, and shipping.

According to Lyte Aviation, its SkyBus and SkyTruck aircraft will have a range of up to around 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) and a maximum speed of 300 km/h (187 mph). Initially, four turboprop engines fitted in pairs to each of the wings will power the aircraft. On each wingtip, a hydrogen fuel cell electric motor will provide additional power. The SkyTruck would be able to carry a payload of 4.5 tonnes (9,900 pounds).

Lyte’s ultimate objective is to rework the aircraft with all-hydrogen propulsion. But first, it wants to lay the groundwork for a VTOL aircraft that it believes will transform regional aviation through its ability to bypass existing airports.